Luncheon and Monthly Meetings
April 2017 Luncheon Program Summary
The April luncheon was a celebration of CWAJ’s Fukushima Relief Projects that were launched as a quick response to support the areas stricken by the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011. In recognition of our efforts, which continue today, Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori has honored CWAJ with the Governor’s Award of Appreciation. We were privileged and pleased to welcome as Luncheon speaker Dr. Shin’ichi Niwa who presented the award certificate from the Governor along with a pair “okiagari koboshi”, papier-mâché dolls that recover their upright position when pushed over, a beautiful symbol of Fukushima’s recovery from adversity. Many other guests who worked together in various programs of CWAJ Fukushima Relief Projects traveled from Fukushima to attend the luncheon and share the honor with us.
Dr Niwa is Senior Policy Administrator of Social Health and Medical Practice Sector, Fukushima Prefecture; Adjunct Professor by Special Appointment, Aizu Medical Center, Fukushima Medical University; and Professor Emeritus, Neuropsychiatry, Fukushima Medical University
After the award ceremony, Dr Niwa shared a special video message in English from Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori. The Governor said, “The light of hope in Fukushima is growing stronger and brighter” although much work remains, such as supporting the 80,000 people who are still in evacuation both inside and outside the prefecture. By trying hard without fear of failure, the Governor is confident that not only will Fukushima be revitalized but the situation of Japan and the world will also improve.
Dr Niwa then shared a detailed update of the current situation in Fukushima. Environmental recovery is an enormous challenge, but determined decontamination efforts have reduced the evacuation area at this time to 5% of the area of the prefecture. Most of Fukushima now has background radiation levels equivalent or below that of major cities around the world such as Rotterdam, Singapore, and New York.
Damage to the reputation of Fukushima products is another major concern. Enhanced inspection efforts insure food safety: every bag of rice produced in Fukushima is now inspected and all meet today’s strict standards. Besides rice, fruits and vegetables, livestock, and cultivated mushrooms are all safe. A small percentage of marine products and mountain plants and wild mushrooms still fall below standards.
Dr Niwa strongly encouraged everyone to support Fukushima by visiting the prefecture and enjoying the many hot springs and award-winning sakes. We can also encourage overseas family and friends to visit Fukushima, as the tourist industry remains less than half of what it was before the disaster.
Finally, Dr Niwa explained the mental health initiatives that started within a month of the earthquake and tsunami. Kokoro Care Nagomi (mental health clinic and outreach services) was inaugurated in January 2012, at which time CWAJ donated a medical van with wheelchair lift. In the following 5 years the van has travelled 35,000 km to serve the community by bringing help to hundreds of socially isolated people in mental distress.
Each luncheon guest received a flyer featuring the various CWAJ FRP activities: donation of the medical van, Fukushima Relief Scholarship for nursing students at Fukushima Medical University School of Nursing, English Program for Children in Fukushima, and Asobijutsu (Art as Play, children’s art project).
Please check out the Fukushima Relief Projects section of the website for photos and additional information about the FRP.
If you are not a CWAJ member but would like to attend a luncheon, learn more about CWAJ, or attend an "Information Meeting", please contact Member Activities at firstname.lastname@example.org.