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The Japan Multicultural Relief Fund (JMRF), a U.S.-based grantmaking program jointly established by Japan Pacific Resource Network (JPRN) and Eclipse Rising in March 2011 in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, is dedicated to the empowerment and leadership by and for vulnerable communities in the post Tohoku disaster region towards and inclusive and multicultural Japanese society.



NOVEMBER 19, 2015

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to pass the resolution for establishment of the memorial for "comfort women"

On September 22, 2015, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to pass the resolution for establishment of the memorial for "comfort women." ER has played a key role in building a wide community support for the resolution, along with our partners in CWJC (Comfort Women Justice Coalition).

In the interview before the meeting on September 22, 2015, Miho Lee, the coordinator of the Comfort Women Justice Coalition, spoke on the significance of the memorial and our struggle against the Abe administration's historical revisionism (watch video).

SF City Hall Holds Press Conference To Welcome Grandma Yong Soo Lee and to Support Memorial For "Comfort Women" — Sep. 17, 2015

A press conference was held in San Francisco City Hall on September 17, 2015 and hosted by San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar to welcome Grandma Yong Soo Lee, a WW 2 "Comfort Women" Survivor (watch video). She flew in from Seoul, Korea, to support a memorial for the 200,000 women and girls enslaved by the Japanese Imperial Army for sexual servitude during the Second World War. Speakers at the press conference reported that the Japanese Abe government had lobbied elected officials and Japanese American community to oppose the memorial, and that historical denialists dismissed these "Comfort Women" as "prostitutes."

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The Power of Two-Minute Statements

NOVEMBER 18, 2015

Tomomi Kinukawa's Statement

In mid-July, 2015, I received a group email from Miho, warning us about Japanese neo-nationalists’ campaign against a resolution on “comfort women” memorial in San Francisco and their plans to use public hearing sessions to promote their revisionism. Alarmed, I rushed to the board meeting on July 21. Sure enough, Japanese far-rights showed up to deny the historical veracity of the Japanese military sexual slavery. More important, however, a wide range of individuals and groups filled the room and expressed their compassion for justice for victims of the “comfort women” system, deeply rooted in their diasporic, activist, and family history. From our mutual bewilderment of possible allies in the room, our trans-ethnic, trans-national, multi-interest “Comfort Women Justice Coalition” was born.

On that day prior to the meeting I had had no plan to make my first two-minute public statement. As a dozen denialists started to use their two-minute statements to deny the historical truth and allege that the memorial would divide our communities, I felt no choice but to join other activists and residents of the Bay Area to support the memorial. As I grew up in Japan, I witnessed courageous survivors of the crime against humanity, with support of feminists in Asia, testified their experience in front of courts, for media, and for school children, breaking and challenging fifty-year silence sanctioned by Japanese government. Their act, which we will remember as one of the most important landmark of women’s history and world history, has allowed people, including Japanese women like my mother, to learn and to confront the past atrocities. Living true to our history has never divided our communities or provoked bashing against people. It is when the state starts to fabricate history to justify criminalizing and scapegoating a group of people that our communities suffer from violence.

Almost two months later, on September 17, a much larger group of activists and residents of the Bay gathered in the same room, before SF Board of Supervisors voted for the resolution. Here is the two-minute statement I read at the hearing.

Shiori Horikawa's Statement

JPRN would like to express our fierce admiration to our friend Shiori Horikawa, an international student at San Francisco State University and long-time youth ally of Eclipse Rising from Tokyo, Japan, speaking bravely from her perspective as granddaughter of a Hibakusha of Nagasaki, as a national of Japan, and as a believer of peace and justice for all peoples of the world.

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News from Japan Multicultural Relief Fund!

AUGUST 3, 2015

JMRF Partners with Urgent Action Fund in San Francisco to Stand with "Comfort Women" and Victims of Japan's Wartime Atrocities during WWII!

We are happy to announce that on July 28, 2015, the Urgent Action Fund (UAF) in San Francisco approved a rapid response grant in the amount of $5,000 for JMRF to convene a planning process to galvanize wide community support, particularly among grassroots Asian-Pacific Islander community organizations and their allies dedicated to social justice and equity, for the successful passage of Resolution 150764, which urges San Francisco to erect a memorial statue for "Comfort Women." This Resolution, authored by Supervisor Eric Mar, and co-sponsored by a majority of Supervisors, urges the City and County of San Francisco to establish a memorial for "Comfort Women." This term "euphemistically refers to an estimated 200,000 women and young girls who were kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II".

The Resolution states that on this 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, "the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco "expresses its strong support of creating a memorial in memory of those girls and women who suffered immeasurable pain and humiliation as sex slaves and as a sacred place for remembrance, reflection, remorsefulness, and atonement for generations to come."

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Sugok Shin's Speech at the “Bye Bye Genpatsu (Nuclear Power Plant) 3.9 Kyoto”

Since March 11, 2011, I have visited the disaster struck region for two years now. The reason is easy to explain. There were 91,147 foreign nationals living in five disaster struck prefectures (Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaragi) at the time of the earthquake, yet only 23 were confirmed to be dead. I wanted to know what happened to other people.

I am firmly against nuclear power because I’ve learned that nuclear accidents destroy not only people’s bodies, but people themselves.

Television shows an idealized depiction of victims who are moving forward with their lives. But in reality, I have never met such people. Unfortunately, mass media does not show the real damage or suffering. It was one year before I finally learned the true stories of the victims. Survivors live in a state of uncertainty—never knowing whom they can talk to, and whom they cannot. The moment they voice fears towards nuclear radiation in Fukushima, they are attacked, ignored or ostracized. They don’t know how to differentiate between enemies and friends. They don’t know what they can say and to what extent. This is their everyday reality.

People criticize the parents who did not to evacuate. They attack them. But each survivor faces different circumstances, and many cannot migrate to other parts of Japan. In spite of this, those who stay are called “idiots,” while those who have evacuated are called “abandoners.” And those who have abandoned aren’t accepted when they attempt to return to their hometowns. Everyone is suffering. Their circumstances are destroying them. Eventually those who were called “abandoners” are known as “the vanished.”

Children Who Cannot Swing

Children are restricted from vigorous play outside, and as a result, their physical development is limited. 5-year-olds have the physical strength of 3-year-olds. Many 5-year-olds do not even have the strength to swing on a park swing. Without physical strength, their immune systems don’t develop properly and they are prone to illness.

Outlets for Suppressed Emotions

As parents and children suppress their emotions, and bullying amongst siblings emerges. Suppressed emotions need outlets, so where do they go? They go where there is little resistance: women and children. Cases of domestic violence have increased. I once visited a temporary home in the disaster struck region, and a woman approached me and asked me to tell the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare not to raise cigarette prices. I asked her why, and she said, “It’s only when my husband is smoking outside, that he doesn’t hit me.”

Foreign Wives

Right after the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant, I received phone calls from a number of foreign wives living in the area. They said, “when I woke up this morning, all the Japanese were gone!” They didn’t know the Japanese words “genpatsu” (nuclear power plant) or “takadai ni hinan” (escape to the hills [to avoid tsunami]). These women were married to Japanese men, but from the Philippines, Thailand, South Korea, China and Vietnam. There was no multi-lingual support available, and so they were left behind. It has been 2 years. Each time I visit them, they tell me what they can in Japanese. But when I ask, “What really happened? How do you feel now?” They switch to their mother tongue, and I cannot understand. I cannot hear their stories. We need a hotline service where they can express their feelings in their own language.

Single Mothers and Self Blame

Japanese media creates a narrative in which a “normative family,” made up of a father and a mother, is seen as crucial for helping children recover from the disasters. Single mothers suffer as they see their lives in the context of the traditional family; they often feel it is because they could not sustain a normative family structure that their children experience difficulties. Often working two or three part-time jobs just to get by even before the earthquake, the disappearance of jobs following the nuclear accident pushes these women to suffer even more. They accumulate large debts without even realizing it.


Companies were the first to discriminate after the nuclear accident. It began with foreign-affiliated insurance companies denying cancer insurance to people in Fukushima. Likely due to their increased risk. Hotels were next. Many would not let people from Fukushima stay because of the potential reaction from other guests. In evacuation areas cars are vandalized, and in schools children are bullied, told that their bodies are “full of radioactivity” and “infectious.” Consequently, many children suffer from anxiety disorder and depression.

Situations like these now take place everywhere. The unfortunate outcome is fractured lives, lack of security, and miserable days regardless of whether or not a victim evacuated.

“Fukushima” has become a new “buraku“ outcast group, born from modern Japan. Fukushima discrimination is the same discrimination we once saw towards 2nd and 3rd generation atomic bomb victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which many of us believed was a thing of the past. Fukushima is also the cause of insurmountable environmental pollution, yet nuclear power plants continued to emerge as a direct result of such discrimination. As we strive towards a new era, we must not discriminate against the victims, the suffering, or the vulnerable. If we live this way, we can fight back against proponents of nuclear power; it is the way I choose to live.


東日本大震災の被災地で、配偶者間暴力(DV)が深刻化している。狭い仮設住宅に妻たちの逃げ場はなく暴力は激化。先が見えない避難生活が続く中、夫婦関 係が悪化するなどし、福島県では2012年、警察へのDV相談件数が過去最多になった。DVは子どもの成育にも悪影響を及ぼし、児童虐待を誘発する懸念も ある。国は震災後、相談窓口を設置したが、支援者は「DV被害はこれからさらに増える」と警戒する。

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Filipino to sue TEPCO over suicide of husband in Fukushima

SOMA, Fukushima Prefecture—Vanessa Kanno started sobbing when she looked at the messages scrawled in chalk by the man who had provided her with a quiet but happy life.

“I was a father who could do nothing,” one of the messages said.

Vanessa's husband, Shigekiyo Kanno, a 54-year-old dairy farmer, wrote those words on the wall of a compost shed before hanging himself three months after the accident started at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in March 2011.

“I lived with him for more than 10 years,” Vanessa, 34, recently told The Asahi Shimbun on the farm. “I want to see him. He is not responsible, so why does he have to say, ‘I'm sorry?'”

Vanessa, who was born in the Philippines, and her two sons plan to file a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court in March against the company she says is responsible for destroying the family's peaceful life. They will demand about 110 million yen ($1.2 million) in compensation from the nuclear plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co.

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 救われた命よ 生きよと
 遺された命よ 目ざめよと













Report Confirms Senior Citizens Vulnerable to Earthquake-Related Deaths

Of all people who died due to causes related to the Tohoku earthquakes, senior citizens represent about 89.5%, according to a report released by the Reconstruction Agency of Japan.

Earthquake-related deaths, by definition, do not include “direct” victims of the earthquakes and tsunami. Instead, the word is used to capture the broader extent of the disasters by assessing the deaths that would not have happened if the victims had not been forced to evacuate.

On May 11, 2012, the Reconstruction Agency held the first meeting to investigate into the causes such deaths. The report shows that surviving the disasters does not guarantee secure lives, particularly for senior citizens. Within 1 month from the earthquake, 865 earthquake-related deaths were reported—additional 459 within 3 months, 235 within 6 months, and further 73 within a year.

Various news media have reported that the main cause of their deaths is lack of access to adequate medical and elderly care due to evacuation and dispossession. Many people have been forced relocate to one place after another in the aftermath. This led to enormous stress, which was exacerbated by the loss of social and community support.

The government does not have a clear definition of an earthquake-related death. This is in order to allow the local municipalities to decide on their own definitions. In fact, in Futaba County, Fukushima Prefecture, the number of deaths that resulted from evacuation related to the nuclear power plant incident, as well as to the earthquakes and tsunami, outnumbered that of direct deaths.

Some municipalities in Fukushima have also recognized the undisclosed number of suicide cases related to the nuclear power plant incident as earthquake-related. The government will continue to assess, with a plan to come up with a preventive measure in August 2012.

Overall, the report on earthquake-related deaths highlight senior citizens’ need for continuous care and support—medical, material, and mental—from both the government and the local communities.

Haruki Eda
Researcher, JMRF

Sources (Japanese):

Reconstruction Agency: “The Number of Victims of Earthquake-Related Deaths in the great Eastern Japan Earthquake”

Mainichi Shimbun via Yahoo! Japan News: “Earthquake-Related Deaths: 90% Senior Citizens: 1632 People at the End of March”

Kahoku Online Network: “Earthquake-Related Deaths: Suicide Due to the Power Plant, The Government to Assess the Situation”

Yomiuri Online: “Suicide Due to Evacuation from the Power Plant Incident Recognized as Earthquake-Related”

Yomiuri Online: “342 Earthquake-Related Deaths Counted…8 Municipalities in Futaba County, Fukushima

After The Media Has Gone: Fukushima, Suicide and the Legacy of 3.11

Map showing 20 kilometer evacuation zone and neighboring towns


For the media, time is of the essence in a news story. The March 11, 2011 disaster attracted thousands of reporters and photographers from around the world. There was a brief deluge of Japanese and international media coverage on the first anniversary, this spring. Now the journalists have packed up and gone and by accident or design Japan's government seems to be mobilizing its agenda, aware that it is under less scrutiny.

The press pack has disappeared like a ghost since this April. The influx of foreign media has suddenly stopped, as I can attest since I worked as a translator and aid to many foreign journalists in the year up to the 3.11 anniversary in 2012. Using the keywords 'Fukushima' and 'nuclear plant' in Japanese to scour the Nikkei TELECOM 21 search engine shows 9,981 domestic news items in April 2012, just over half the 17,272 stories the previous month.

As if to take advantage of the precise timing of the media evacuation, the municipal government of Minami-soma city, Fukushima Prefecture began implementing a blueprint planned some time earlier. In the dead of night on Monday April 16th, the city lifted the no-entry regulations and changed evacuation zone designations that had stood since March 12, 2011. The decision allowed people to return to the district of Odaka and some parts of the Haramachi district.

Watanabe Ichie, a volunteer from Tokyo who witnessed the scene near the roadblock into the zone observed that: "several police vehicles with flashing red lights arrived after 23:00 on April 15th. By 0:15, all the vehicles had gone". "After that, all that remained was the light from the traffic signals." The following morning, cars moved freely inside the once-prohibited area."

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A place covered with heavily grown grasses: Fukushima

Photo courtesy
Photo courtesy CNN
Photo courtesy

In this world, there are number of places that used to be very lively and full of vitality, but became desolate no-man's land. Fukushima prefecture in Japan is not an exception. After the huge earthquake in March 11th 2011, people had to evacuate from the prefecture, which was contaminated by the radiation. This radioactive contamination was created by the Fukushima nuclear plant, which was heavily damaged by the tsunami on March 11th.

The families, workers, children….all people in the town near the nuclear plant were forced to leave their hometown. Today, there are more than 40,000 people are being forced to live at an evacuation site. More than 300,000 people are living at a temporary house. Children are being apart with their friends and enter school at the surrounding prefectures. Students from Fukushima are being discriminated at the certain school due to a suspicion that they might bring radiation. Recently, kindergartens from Fukushima were refused to enter a nursery school in Yamanashi prefecture. The increasing discrimination against innocent people in Fukushima shows no signs of stopping. Biased, rapid information provided by the mass media produced a huge prejudice toward everything related to Tohoku region, especially Fukushima.

Towns in Fukushima became ghost towns. Without humans, the roads are being covered with ivy and weed. Some plants grew too large that they are reaching the height of the humans. Nobody lives here, but there are animals everywhere in the town. These animals came from the farms, zoo, and normal houses. Most of them are pet animals. Owners needed to make a harsh decision to leave their pet animals, who are the important member of the family. The scenery of an ostrich walking in a residential area seems to be very unnatural. Can people believe that the humans used to live here until the last year? Can people accept the reality that this is Japan? After a year, the passionate, favorable feeling that the people in Japan had toward the victims are decreasing. In fact, most people lost interest. The disaster had not ended yet. There are places and people that still need help.

Related articles/links:


東日本大震災から1年 写真で振り返る復興と現在

福島から避難の子ども、入園断られる 山梨の保育園


4/13 San Jose, 4/14 LA Film Screening:

There will be a film screening of the "Fukushima, Never Again" in San Jose and LA next weekend, directed and produced by Bay Area filmmakers, Steve Zeltzer and Kazumi Torii. These events are organized by our ally, No Nukes Action Committee.

April 13th 7PM
San Jose Peace and Justice Center
48 S. 7th St., San Jose, CA

San Jose Green Party will host FNA screening as a part of their movie night program.

Refreshment and food will be served from 6:30PM. Umi Hagitani will attend and moderate post-screening discussion.

More info at:
No Nukes Action Committee website

April 14th 2-6PM
Southern California Library
6120 S. Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA, 90044

The Southern California Library and Yushi Yamazaki from LA will host a screening (plus speakers and discussion).

$5 donation requested (no one turned away due to lack of funds)

Please contact Yushi Yamazaki 323-401-3035 or

More info at:
Facebook event page
No Nukes Action Committee website

Other News


Children build xylophone from tsunami debris to overcome PTSD

NATORI, Miyagi Prefecture--Elementary school pupils in the Yuriage district here have created a musical instrument from tsunami debris to help them overcome the horrors of the disaster that destroyed the area last year.

Norihiko Kuwayama, a 49-year-old psychiatrist, organized the project in April after learning that some of the children were showing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“Organizing thoughts by combining the scattered memories of the disaster can help prevent PTSD,” he said.

On April 26, Kuwayama led a group of 10 children from Yuriage Elementary School to the shore to search through the remaining debris.

After an hour, they gathered the collected debris in one place.

“Let’s see if it makes a sound,” a child said, showing a piece of debris.

They made noises on the pieces by striking them with a wooden plectrum. An electronic keyboard was used to see if the children had enough pieces to complete a scale."

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Japan to Extend Temporary Housing Occupancy Period

Tokyo, April 17 (Jiji Press)–Japan’s Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said Tuesday it will allow March 2011 disaster survivors to live in temporary housing for one more year after the initially set occupancy period is over.

The ministry also decided to add water-reheating functions to baths and set up storage facilities for furniture at prefabricated houses in temporary housing compounds.

Currently, the victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, mostly in northeastern Japan, are allowed to live in temporary housing for up to two years in principle.

But the ministry thinks it necessary to extend the period because many of the evacuees are unlikely find and settle in new homes any time soon.

A total of 300,000 afflicted people are now living temporarily in some 50,000 prefabricated houses and 70,000 leased private houses, both provided by local municipalities, according to the ministry.


Japan's untouchable workers

Japan's long-discriminated-against rendered as Nuclear Day Laborers in Fukushima post-meltdown cleanup, exposing Environmental Racism, Japanese style In the aftermath of the disaster at the Fukushima-Daiichi Power Plants, owned by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), "a systemsimilar to the one that governed Black sharecroppers in the southern United States" is starting to emerge. "They move from one plant to another seeking the most dangerous jobs...[i]t is very difficult to follow their health needs since they are not permanent employees and no one monitors their health...The workers are afraid of losing their jobs. And if they protest, the sub-contracting company will lose their job as well and will be replaced by another sub-contractor bringing in more Burakumin."


Back to School (KoreAm March Issue)

"The Koriyama school is one of two Woori Hakkyo schools located in the disaster region; the other in Tohoku was destroyed and has yet to be rebuilt.Part of the challenge in rebuilding the Tohoku school, or in decontamination efforts at the Koriyama school, is that such work is not fully funded by the national or municipal governments. The Japanese government justifies its lack of aid by citing that the Woori Hakkyo schools receive financial support from the North Korean government.

Goo told me there are about 2,000 ethnic Koreans, referred to as zainichi, living in Fukushima Prefecture. Most of them were born in Japan, and don’t care if their ancestors were born in what is now North or South Korea. They are simply proud of their Korean heritage."


BBC Documentary "Children of the Tsunami" Airs

BBC documentary "Children of the Tsunami" shares stories and perspectives of children on the tsunami. Video clips of their narrations describe their experiences of the day of the tsunami and their lives in the aftermath of the day. The children also detail their experiences on the evacuation of their homes near the Fukushima nuclear reactors. Some of their stories, along with some their parent's stories, express frustration and confusion with authorities on issues with the evacuation of children, search for missing bodies, misinformation from the government, and when they can return home.

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