Voices from Russia

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Japan Remembers 2011 Tsunami Victims

00 Japan. tsunami. statue in Miyagi of Jizo Bosatsu. 10.03.13

A statue in Miyagi Prefecture (Tōhoku Region. Honshu) JAPAN of Jizō Bosatsu, one of Buddha‘s disciples, who guides dead children to heaven. People leave offerings here nearly every day.


Two years ago, a devastating earthquake and tsunami laid waste to the northeast coast of Japan, causing an accident at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. Memorial events commemorating victims of the disaster will be held throughout the country. Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzō and his Cabinet members will attend the main ceremony in Tokyo. At 14.46 local time (09.46 MSK), there’ll be a moment of silence. That was the precise time of the first tremors of the quake. Recovery efforts continue in Japan, with officials estimating they might take anywhere from three to 15 years. Amongst the main problems are the slow rate of the reconstruction of destroyed infrastructure and the depopulation of the affected areas.

Almost two years after a destructive earthquake and tsunami hit Japan on 11 March 2011, devastating the northeastern portion of the country, 300,000 Japanese remain in evacuation housing. Many of them have to live in spartan conditions. Some 80,000 former residents of the towns of Okuma and Futaba in the Futaba District of Fukushima Prefecture, evacuated because of quake damage at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, still don’t know when they’ll be able to return to their homes, due to radioactive contamination. The effort to repair the aftermath of the natural disaster in different parts of the country may take anything between 3 and 15 years. The tragedy of 11 March 2011 killed 15,881 people and 2,668 more are still missing.

Japan will need another five to ten years to rebuild and recover from the consequences of the 2011 earthquake. This follows from a poll conducted by the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun of 42 Mayors of the cities affected. The Mayors pointed up that some of the major problems were a large population outflow and the disposal of the debris from the quake and tsunami. The M 9 quake and the ensuing tsunami occurred off the northeastern coast of Honshu on 11 March 2011. The elements claimed almost 19,000 lives. The earthquake and tsunami destroyed entire cities and damaged the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, which resulted in widespread radioactive contamination.

11 March 2013

Voice of Russia World Service



Wednesday, 12 October 2011

12 October 2011. Five Months After the Tsunami… The Kiotoku Maru Still Beached in Kesennuma

It’s taking Japan a while to get over the effects of the March tsunami. This photo was taken on 7 September. It shows the fishing trawler Kiotoku Maru, still beached in Kesennuma (Miyagi Prefecture. Tōhoku Region). It’s going to take a long time to recover. You simply don’t wave a wand and say, “It’s all over”… only lunatics do that.


Sunday, 11 September 2011

11 September 2011. A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words… Japan… Six Months On After the Tsunami

A scene in Rikuzentakata (Iwate Prefecture. Tōhoku Region) JAPAN… the tsunami hit on 11 March, some six months ago… this image proves that there’s MUCH more work in front of the Japanese… I’ll confide that they’ll do it, and with no fanfare or American-style boasting, either!


You do NOT recover from any disaster, whether natural or man-made, by just waving a wand. Japan is still rebuilding after the tsunami… and it’ll be doing so for some time yet. The churchman who bloviated, “It’s all over” was vacuous, disingenuous, and fatuous. As I said, you don’t recover from ANY disaster, whether natural OR man-made, by just wishing it away. Reality has a way of  dealing with such people, doesn’t it?


Tuesday, 15 March 2011

15 March 2011. The Tsunami and the Japanese Autonomous Orthodox Church (MP)

The Mother of God

Unknown Artist

Japanese painting on silk

circa 1900-05


The MP announced that it’s collecting donations for financial assistance to the Orthodox Christians affected by the Japanese earthquake. “We began by taking donations at the Marfa-Mariinskoi Convent in Moscow. We’re collecting money for the needs of the Orthodox communities in Japan”, Bishop Panteleimon Shatov of Orekhovo-Zuevsky, the head of the MP Department for Church Charity and Social Service, told Interfax-Religion on Tuesday. He told us that there’s no accurate and detailed information on the extent of damage to Orthodox facilities in Japan. “But we know that some churches have suffered significant damage, one or more may be destroyed”, Vladyki Panteleimon said. He added that the fund drive is a joint effort of his department and the MP DECR, saying, “We’ll accept funds on behalf of the MP Department for Church Charity in roubles, dollars, or euros. We’ll publish detailed information later using all available means”.


Fr Basil Taguchi of the Japanese Autonomous Orthodox Church (JAOC/MP) is still missing after a tsunami battered the eastern coast of Japan. “Of the clergy of the Diocese of Sendai and Eastern Japan, only one priest is unaccounted for, Fr Basil Taguchi. His parish is in Ishinomaki, almost at the epicentre of the quake. There’s no access to the area, therefore, as long as that’s true, the fate of Fr Basil will remain unknown”, Dmitri Petrovsky, a spokesman for the MP Department for External Church Relations, told our Interfax-Religion correspondent on Tuesday. He went on to note, “For now, thank God, there’s been no report of confirmed deaths amongst the clergy. There are 24 Orthodox parish churches in the Japanese Pacific coastal zone, in ​​Tōhoku Region, we’ve received information that some of them were destroyed, and that some of them were seriously damaged. Petrovsky also related that Resurrection Cathedral and the MP Representation parish church in Tokyo weren’t affected by the events; they were intact and functioning. However, the outskirts of the city have experienced power outages and problems with the supply of basic food products such as rice and water, people have bought up all that’s available, they’re waiting for what’ll happen next”. The Metropolitan Council of the JAOC/MP is collecting information on the destruction and casualties, but there isn’t a complete picture of the damage yet. “There’s been many offers of assistance, but all aid will be centrally organised by the JAOC/MP Metropolitan Council and through Resurrection Cathedral (Nikorai-do) in Tokyo”, he added.

The Holy Governing Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church {the pre-1917 precursor of the MP: editor} sent St Nikolai Kasatkin to Japan in 1861. In 1870, he established and became the first head of the Russian Orthodox Mission in Japan. Vladyki Nikolai translated the Scripture and liturgical materials into Japanese, and he built Resurrection Cathedral in Tokyo. In 1970, the MP canonised St Nikolai, and it granted autonomy to the JAOC/MP. There are three dioceses in the JAOC/MP, Kyoto and Western Japan, Sendai and Eastern Japan, and Tokyo, with 150 parishes and 40 priests. Some 30,000 Japanese identify themselves as Orthodox Christians.


Bishop Seraphim Tsujie of Sendai (JAOC/MP) said that the disruption caused by the earthquake has had serious consequences for Orthodox life in Japan. “By the Grace of God, our church in Sendai wasn’t significantly damaged, and life in the city is gradually returning to normal. However, parish churches on the Pacific coast have been destroyed, and we’ve had no communication with our communities there”, Bishop Seraphim wrote in a message sent on Tuesday to Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias. He thanked His Holiness for his “kind words” sent to the JAOC/MP hierarchy, the official MP website reported. “The earthquake caused massive damage on the eastern coast of northern Japan, including in our Diocese of Sendai. Despite the fact that aid has poured in for the victims from all over Japan, we still don’t have a full picture of what happened, it’s still unclear because roads are destroyed and communications networks are down”, Bishop Seraphim noted. He went on to say that he’s receiving information from the faithful as time goes on, “We assume that we’ll have a very significant number of victims. We, the surviving clergy and faithful, have resolved to fulfil our obligations to the best of our ability”, Vladyki Seraphim assured Patriarch Kirill. The areas falling within the Diocese of Sendai were the hardest hit by the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck northeastern Japan on 11 March.

15 March 2011





Editor’s Note:

There’s an interesting little omission in the historical section of the second article posted above. It doesn’t mention that the JAOC/MP was previously under the American Metropolia. That connection was brought about by the US occupation authorities after WWII, as a Cold War measure. The JAOC/MP had voted to unite with the MP, but the Americans didn’t want the Russians to have a foothold in Japan. In addition, the oca.org post on the Japanese earthquake mentioned the IOCC (an EP shop… it’s not “Pan-Orthodox” (there’s no such thing)) but it didn’t mention the rather more significant aid being given by the MP. After all, Vladivostok is closer to Sendai than Istanbul, New York, and Washington are… they’re the neighbours, after all. Oh, yes, the JAOC/MP is an integral part of the MP… a fact NOT mentioned in the oca.org post either. It only spoke of EP initiatives… not those of the MP (or any other Local Church, for that matter). Interesting “slip-up”, no?


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