Japan earthquake and tsunami: One year later

World Vision continues to provide support to Japanese children and families who were the most severely impacted by the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster of March 2011.

Edited by Shawna Templeton. Photos by Itoh Kei.
Published March 8, 2012 at 12:00am PST

One year after a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami devastated northeastern Japan, World Vision continues to assist tens of thousands of people in the most affected communities.

World Vision’s response

World Vision has assisted more than 140,000 people in the region, both in the aftermath of the disaster and through ongoing support.

After an extensive relief response, we implemented a three-year plan to assist families as they rebuild their lives.

The program focuses on:

>> Children’s development and protection in tsunami-affected communities
>> Support to senior citizens
>> Livelihood recovery in the fishing industry
>> Assistance to evacuees from the Fukushima area

About the disaster

More than 15,000 people were killed and 300,000 people displaced when a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami hit northeast Japan on March 11, 2011.

A nuclear emergency was triggered at the Fukushima prefecture, and roads, rail, and power were crippled across the region. The World Bank estimates damages at $235 billion, making it the most expensive natural disaster in history.

Despite Japan’s extensive experience with disaster drills and its standing as a highly organized and a well-resourced nation, the situation was overwhelming for communities and the government.

The initial response

Fishermen cultivate seaweed using boats provided by World Vision.

In the first weeks and months after the disaster, World Vision responded by:

>> Providing relief items
>> Establishing community kitchens in evacuation centers
>> Setting up Child-Friendly Spaces

Phase two of the response involves broader community development and strengthening, with a focus on child protection and disaster preparedness, livelihood recovery, and assistance to evacuees.

Overwhelming support from donors

World Vision was humbled by an outpouring of support from our donors for the people of Japan.

“‘Kizuna’ is a popular word in Japan these days,” said Mariko Kinai, World Vision’s disaster response director in Japan. “It means ‘bonds of friendship,’ and it is something that has been powerfully demonstrated over the past year. The support shown to Japan by more than 20 countries via World Vision has strengthened our understanding of ‘kizuna’ and offered great hope to those who have been affected.”

Due both to our donors’ generosity and the Japanese government’s leadership to fund an effective, multibillion-dollar aid response, World Vision raised the $53.5 million needed for a three-year response in Japan in the space of a few short weeks. Having received $5.84 million more than what was needed for our response in Japan,  we ceased active fundraising efforts.

While it is unprecedented for World Vision to raise more funds than we can utilize in a given emergency, we are committed to spending these funds on World Vision’s other active emergency responses and life-saving emergency preparation work, in accordance with our standing donor promise — specifically in the Horn of Africa and West Africa, which are hard hit by hunger crises, and in the disaster-prone Asia Pacific region.

Learn more

Read our coverage on the World Vision Blog following the deadly earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Two ways you can help

Please pray for the families and communities in northeastern Japan who continue to rebuild their lives and livelihoods, one year after the quake and tsunami that devastated the region.

Make a one-time gift to our Disaster Response Fund. Your donation will help us quickly respond with life-saving assistance to sudden-onset emergencies around the world, like last year’s tragedy in Japan.