The BTMU Foundation, a charitable foundation supported by The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd. (BTMU), provided a special contribution of $308,898 to the Japan NGO Earthquake Relief & Recovery Fund in December 2011 to help rebuild community ties in areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. These monies were donated by bank staff, customers, vendors, retirees, and people associated with BTMU in North and South America, and were augmented by matching funds from the bank. The “BTMU Americas Community Recovery Award” helps strengthen community-based organizations, preserve local heritage, and reconstitute the formal and informal networks that make communities function. The following organizations have received this award, which provided full or partial funding for their initiatives.
AidTAKATA—Radio FM Rikuzentakata
AidTAKATA has launched one of the region’s only local radio stations in order to better engage community members in the reconstruction process and to provide information and entertainment for residents. The information gives the residents, as well as the many volunteers and aid workers in the area, a sense that progress is being made and therefore eases some of the mental stress that they are experiencing. The programming also strengthens the sense of community among the listeners, many of whom are in temporary housing and a disproportionate number of whom are senior citizens.
Fukushima Organic Agriculture Network—”Rebuilding Fukushima Ties” Recovery Project
The Fukushima Organic Agriculture Network is working to support local farming communities in the disaster zone. To do this, it has launched a project to help integrate farmers displaced by the nuclear accident into the local community by matching them with local farmers who need employees. It is also working to combat consumer fears by distributing accurate information on Fukushima produce and safety checks, as well as by teaching safer farming techniques.
Kamaishi Platform—Coastal Community Project: Support for Artisanal Oyster Farming
In the wake of 3/11, Kamaishi Platform has been working to promote economic recovery in Kamaishi. This grant is for a project to help revive the town’s oyster industry, which is a key part of the community’s identity. The industry’s infrastructure was devastated by the 14-foot waves of the tsunami. Kamaishi Platform’s initiative is working to restore that industry by building connections between small artisanal oyster producers in Kamaishi and Tokyo-based consumers and restaurants. The customers make contributions to support the rebirth of the industry and in return, receive an allocation of oysters for the next 10 years. The goal is to build brand awareness for Kamaishi oysters as a way of restoring the economy and the local pride.
The Sanaburi Foundation was launched in 2011 as the Tohoku region’s first community foundation, and the BTMU Americas Community Recovery Award funds are going to strengthen its institutional base, conduct outreach, and reach sustainability. The aim of the foundation is to channel funds from inside and outside the region to community-based projects and, by doing so, to strengthen Tohoku’s nonprofit sector.
Sankaku Planning Iwate—Delivery Care Project
The “Delivery Care Project” was conceived as a way to hire unemployed women affected by the disaster to provide shopping services to other survivors—many of them disabled senior citizens—who lost their homes and now live in temporary housing without transportation or other means to go out to purchase groceries and daily necessities. Through regular contact, the project staff also kept track of the physical and mental health of their clients, who may otherwise have been at risk of becoming isolated from their community.
About the BTMU Foundation
The BTMU Foundation, Inc., is a not-for-profit, tax-exempt charitable organization that operates on a $5-million endowment and contributions from the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd. (BTMU), in the Americas. The foundation dedicates its investment income and any direct contributions from the bank and others to making grants to support affordable housing; economic and workforce development in distressed neighborhoods; and direct social, health, and educational services for low- and moderate-income people. The foundation also provides grants to nonprofit organizations to support environmental sustainability, the promotion of US-Japan relations, and volunteer efforts by BTMU Americas employees.