With help from JEN and from a German NGO that JEN has partnered with for nearly two decades, in mid-November a temporary shopping mall, “Oshika no Rengai,” officially opened in Ayukawahama (on the Oshika Peninsula) after just one and a half months of construction. The goal was to get the shops up and running before the winter set in as a way to spur the economic recovery in the area. A total of 16 shops are now open for business, including restaurants, food and liquor stores, a beauty salon, a gift shop, an electronics shop, a shop selling household goods, and so on. The shops were quickly filled with shoppers, and there were many reunions of friends and neighbors who had not seen each other since the disaster. Prior to the opening of this shopping mall, the closest shopping area was a 40-minute drive away, so the shops are a much-needed sign of recovery in the area.
Peace Winds Japan (PWJ) lent a hand to a similar economic recovery effort in Ofunato, where 60 percent of all businesses were damaged or destroyed by the tsunami. Prior to the disaster, the town had three shopping areas, but they were all destroyed on March 11, and the Shopping District Cooperative had been forced to disband. Most of the store owners were in their 50s, making the challenge of rebuilding even more daunting, but they gathered together, secured the land, and began planning. On December 3, a ceremony was held to officially open the “Ofunato Yume Shotengai” (Ofunato Dream Shopping Center), which has 33 shops. This symbol of recovery offers a ray of hope as the town looks forward to the New Year holidays ahead.
JCIE has been reporting regularly on the relief and recovery activities of the Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR), one of the organizations JCIE has funded through our Japan NGO Earthquake Relief and Recovery Fund. AAR is also active in providing humanitarian relief around the world, and following the October 23 earthquake in Turkey, AAR dispatched 3 staff members to distribute food and other relief items there. Sadly, when a strong aftershock struck Turkey on November 9, the hotel where the AAR staff were staying collapsed, claiming the life of Mr. Atsushi Miyazaki and injuring one of his colleagues. Mr. Miyazaki had just joined AAR in September, having been inspired by the work the organization was doing in northern Japan. JCIE would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to his family and colleagues. His untimely passing serves as a sad reminder of the risk and sacrifice these brave relief workers accept as they pursue their mission.