First of all, let me express my appreciation for the many messages of condolence and encouragement we have received from around the world. You are surely aware of the enormity of the these catastrophic days in Japan, beginning with a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, followed quickly by colossal tsunami, and crippling the nuclear power plant that supplies a large portion of electric power to the Tokyo metropolis. Myriad aftershocks are felt daily.
While we pray for the thousands of victims and their families and other thousands who lost their homes or who have to evacuate the nuclear reactor vicinity, we can report that our own Jesuit men and their works were not seriously affected, as we have no presence north of Tokyo. We have heard a few reports from the Sendai Diocese.Fr. Lachaplle, Andre M.E.Quebec died in Shiogama,Miyagi Prefecture by cardiac failure which wasa occurec by severe shocks of the earthquakes and tunami. There are many Catholic facilities in that diocese but most of these are inland from the shore.
Our Tokyo and Kamakura houses and schools experienced violent shaking but no irreparable damage. Several statues fell, losing an arm or a head. The cross at the pinnacle of the tower of St Ignatius Church in central Tokyo was wrenched from its moorings and hangs menacingly upside down held only at its base. The area below the tower has been cordoned off.
In order to reduce the use of electric power, all the areas surrounding central Tokyo will be on limited power outage for several hours each day. The number of trains carrying thousands of people into Tokyo every day has been drastically reduced and, despite official pleas to remain at home, most workplaces in Tokyo will surely do their best to remain open, thus putting pressure on employees to use available means of transport.
We are being warned that there may be further seismic activity during weeks and months to come. Some of this may affect the metropolitan area more directly. We hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
Sincerely in Christ Jesus,
Kajiyama Yoshio, SJ
Provincial of Japan
March 14, 2011
Ten days have passed since my first report on the situation in Japan immediately after the earthquake and tsunami of March 11. The number of victims has increased daily, to over 24,000, as more bodies are discovered and more people are reported missing. Meanwhile, the critical situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant is causing concern not only in Japan but around the world as well. Local farm and dairy products have shown higher levels of radiation, and only yesterday warnings were issued concerning contamination of the Tokyo metropolitan water supply.
By way of responding to the expressed desires of many to provide help for the afflicted areas, I sent a letter to the Province on March 15 suggesting that monetary contributions be directed to Caritas Japan and that this could be done through the Province Treasurer. The first transfer to Caritas Japan from the Province will be made tomorrow, March 25, and a second on April 25.
Meanwhile, appeals for help came from Archbishop Okada of Tokyo and Bishop Hiraga of Sendai. I sent a second letter to the Province on March 22, reporting that the Sendai Diocese, with the cooperation of Caritas Japan, has set up an emergency center to coordinate humanitarian aid operations in Sendai. A group of volunteer youth from Tokyo, including one of our newly ordained Fathers, left yesterday to help for a week at this Sendai Support Center.
Many thousands of people lost their homes in the tsunami or have been urged to evacuate a 20-km radius around the nuclear power station. Many have sought refuge with relatives, but many are still sheltered in large gymnasiums with little food and heat. Besides providing needed supplies to these shelters, parishes and religious houses have been probing possibilities to make empty space available to evacuees. Our large house in Kamishakujii has offered to accommodate 10 evacuees.
Mid-March marks the end of the academic year in Japan. Most schools have canceled formal graduation ceremonies as well as opening ceremonies for the new school year in April. There are a number of Catholic educational institutions in the Sendai Diocese, which received considerable damage from the earthquake but sustained no on-campus fatalities. Some of their students, however, have relocated elsewhere.
As the days wear on, we still experience frequent seismic jolts. Three-hour programmed cutoffs of electric power are affecting areas beyond the central Tokyo wards. There is also a notable lack of some basic foods and commodities. The main fear, however, concerns the invisible threat of radioactivity. We pray that more adequate measures will quickly be taken to cope with the triple disaster that has crippled such a large area of Japan.
Kajiyama Yoshio, SJ
March 24, 2011
★管区長より 2013年4月7日 - 日本語
★From Fr. Provincial April 7th, 2013 - English