Services for the Health in Asian & African Regions (SHARE) = SHARE is a citizen sector organization (NGO) that engages in international cooperation mainly through providing health service.

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Thoughts from Toru Honda: Confronting a National Crisis(The East Japan Earthquake)

"On the Brink of National Crisis: In Memory of the Victims and Looking Towards a New World of Mutual Support" by SHARE Chairperson Toru Honda was published in Opinion & Advocacy on the SHARE website.

I am almost speechless at the overwhelming grief and suffering before my eyes. Allow me to offer my most sincere condolences for the 30,000 souls who have died or are still missing, and to people who are still waiting to hear from family members, those whose homes and workplaces were washed away leaving them to flee with only the clothes on their backs, as well as thousands more forced to evacuate because of the nuclear reactor crisis.

2:46 p.m., March 11, 2011. This will remain a time etched in the collective memory of everyone in Japan when it happened. In the years and decades to come, we will surely continue to speak of it, passing our memories down. The enormous earthquake, with its epicenter in the sea off of the Sanriku Coast, registered at M9.0. Immediately following the quake, towering tsunami devastated most of the East Japan coast on the Pacific Ocean side, from Chiba to Aomori. The disaster took countless precious lives as well as destroyed land and assets. In addition, residents of the Japanese archipelago will be living with the aftermath of the damaged nuclear reactor for many years to come. Devastating earthquake, tsunami, and a nuclear accident: this is the most overwhelming multiple disaster(s) we have had to face since the defeat of Japan in World War II.

The other day, I received a copy of Fire of Chernobyl (Fubaisha 2011) translated by Ikohi Kawata. Ms. Kawata was the translator for Where There is No Doctor by David Werner (SHARE 2009). At 1:23 a.m. on April 26, 1986, reactor no. 4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant suffered a Level 7 accident in which a vessel ruptured during a systems test. The accident triggered a fire in which many lives were lost. Radiation that was released into the atmosphere remains there today. Fire of Chernobyl is a detailed report of the tragedy that unfolded. Anxious for Japanese to read it, Ms. Kawata studied the Ukrainian language on her own. Let me express my great respect for her great accomplishment in completing the translation from the original text. It is certainly fate that it was published less than two months before the Fukushima nuclear reactor accident. "Chernobyl" is Ukrainian for wormwood. Many people believe that the Chernobyl accident was prophesized in Chapter 8 of 'Revelation' in the New Testament of the Bible. I prefer not to pursue that line of inquiry, and rather to focus on the brave young firefighters who left the arms of those who loved them to give their lives to save their compatriots and keep the damage of the explosion to a minimum. They knew full well that they were sacrificing their lives to do everything possible to prevent a worsening situation. The result of their efforts was a crashing blow to so-called top-class scientists and politicians suffering from "Nuclear Energy Euphoria" (the false religion that preaches the complete safety of nuclear energy and the rosy future it will provide.)

We have no time to lose. Victims of the disasters in Japan have refused to give into their hardship and suffering and are squarely focused on rebuilding their lives and society. We who have been spared direct casualty must put our sense of solidarity into action to bring both material and psychological support to those who do not have enough food and are in danger of losing their health. It is only natural that we assist in protecting these lives.

SHARE sent our first team to the quake zone on March 18, and have since dispatched our second and third teams. We are cooperating with the work at the Tohoku International Clinic in Natori City in Miyagi Prefecture. It is run by Dr. Norihiko Kuwayama (head of the NPO Chikyu no Stage). We are also taking surveys of the situation on the Sanriku Coast, and have begun assisting in Kisennuma with home care, visiting nursing, small-scale shelter support, the city hospital, public health nurses, and the medical team dispatched from Ehime Prefecture and elsewhere. As we did in the Kansai Awaji Earthquake in 1995 and the Niigata Hanshin Earthquake in 2004, we will do what we can to advocate primary health care that respects local self-determination and works together with diverse local resources. Undeterred by fatalism, and always with reason and logic, we will continue to do our best for the sake of others, always seeking to find our "destiny mandated by Heaven."

I pray that you will all warmly support and participate in the activities of SHARE. 

Toru Honda, Chairperson of SHARE
March 31, 2011
(Translated by Deborah Iwabuchi)

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