Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Crisis

Tokachi Potatoes Trucked to Sendai

22 May 2013 In April, Y’s Men members from the three clubs in Sendai pressed ahead with an out-of-season “Potato Project”. There was talk early in April that the Tokachi Y’s Men’s Club in Hokkaido would like to present 400 boxes of "Tokachi” potatoes to the area affected by the Tohoku-Kanto earthquake and tsunami that devastated the north-east coast of Japan on 11 March 2011.

"Tokachi” potatoes are a true symbol of autumn and have become a seasonal fundraising event for the YMCA.

The three clubs in Sendai assisted with the transportation costs of the potatoes and the Sendai YMCA Earthquake Support Office helped to arrange delivery to their final destinations.

On 19 April, a container truck from the Nippon Express Corporation arrived at the Naruse Support Centre in Hibiki Industrial Park in Higashimatsushima City. From here half of the potatoes were transhipped in a two-ton truck to Sendai for preparation there. The other half were left with the Support Centre for delivery to 13 temporary houses in the Hibiki area and the Sendai members travelled with the two-ton truck to Ishinomaki. After delivering potatoes to the Watanoha temporary houses and the Tachimachi Fureai Shopping Mall, the members arrived in Sendai.

The Y’s Men members in Sendai arranged to deliver potatoes to seven temporary houses and completed the “Potato Project” by delivering to two strawberry farms.

The potatoes arrive at Naruse Support Centre
The Tonami temporary housing receives potatoes

Weather Fails to Dampen Spirits at Restoration Festival

The "Fukkosai" Festival (Restoration Festival) was held on 29 May in Higashi Matsushima City of Miyagi Prefecture. This prefecture was one of the most affected areas during the 11 March earthquake and tsunami.

The Tokyo Ginza Y's Men's Club was in attendance on the day and served yakitori (BBQ chicken) for some of the more than 1000 visitors to the festival. The Club's yakitori stall was also supported by the Tokyo YMCA and the Tokyo Higashi Y's Men's Club.

The Festival was thoroughly enjoyed and was a happy day amongst the ongoing restoration work.

Further news and photos are available on the Nikkei BP website (Japanese).

IFRC briefs Japan Club in Geneva

31 May 2011 On Thursday 26 May, International Secretary General Nishi and Youth Intern Mami attended the Japan Club meeting in Geneva which featured a presentation by Officer Nobuaki Sato from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). He reported on the activities of the Japan Red Cross during the earthquake and tsunami crisis and showed film footage taken over 40 days, capturing scenes of the most affected regions within northeastern Japan.

Mr Sato noted that a large number of donations had been received from within Japan and from overseas and, during these 40 days, two thousand volunteers from Red Cross Branches all over Japan had been involved in relief activities.

Y's Men International and the IFRC

Y’s Men International is now working very closely with the IFRC on the Roll Back Malaria project, which was recently extended to a five-year campaign. As our relationship strengthens and our knowledge of their organisation grows, it is apparent that we share the same spirit of volunteer service.

It is worthy to note that the co-founder of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Henry Dunant, was also one of the founders of the World Alliance of YMCAs.


The ICRC differs from the IFRC in that the ICRC is the custodian of The Geneva Conventions. It works neutrally and impartially to protect and assist people affected by armed conflict.

The IFRC coordinates activities between the 186 National Societies and promotes programs on behalf of victims of natural disasters, socio-economic crises and health emergencies.

Together, the ICRC, IFRC and the National Societies make up the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

What a Sweet Gift from Kyoto YMCA!

9 May 2011 These candies were delivered to Sendai Volunteer Center and were given to the evacuated children at Utatsu Junior High School. Each candy has a special hand-written message from friends at Kyoto YMCA.


Fuji Y's Member Donates Van

26 April 2011 A light van donated by a member of the Fuji Y's Men's Club arrived after a 900km drive on Saturday 23 April by an executive director of the National Council YMCAs in Japan, Mr. Mitsunaga. He drove all the way from Fuji City to Tokyo (Miyako volunteer centre). Now this small van is greatly assisting to move things around in the Sendai area.

Quake Relief Efforts Continue Unabated

26 April 2011 On Thursday 21 April, three power generators, five high pressure water cleaners, portable radios and food were delivered at the request of the YMCAs of Sendai (volunteer support centre) and Morioka (Miyako volunteer centre). Their safe arrival was assured by driver Mr Mike Hayashi of the Japan East Regional Office and Mr Seiichiro Nunogami of Tokyo Green Y's Men's Club.

RD Expresses Thanks on Behalf of Region

26 April 2011 The Regional Director for Japan East, Mr Toshihiko Matsuda, has written to IPIP Kevin Cummings to express his gratitude for the support shown by Y's Men International towards the Region in the aftermath of the 11 March earthquake and tsunami.

Regional Board Committed to Recovery

11 April 2011 On Saturday 9 April during the Japan East Regional Board Meeting, the participants asserted their commitment to the eathquake and tsunami recovery process, promising to stand by each other at this time. During the meeting, the participants also conducted a public street appeal at a nearby train station to raise vital funds.

Relief Instalment Handed Over

5 April 2011 The Regional Directors of Japan East and Japan West recently visited Sendai YMCA and delivered a donation of relief money. Pictured below (L-R) are Mr Kudo (Sendai Y's Men's Club), Regional Director Japan West Mr Nishina, Regional Director Japan East Mr Matsuda and M. Takeuchi, Mr Seki & Mr Kanamaru (Tokyo Higashi Y's Men's Club).

Port of Soma.
Train at Soma station.

Devastating Reality a Shock for Members

4 April 2011 On the night of Friday 1 April, a relief supplies van left from Tokyo YMCA Toyo-cho Center for Sendai. The van was driven by Y's Men members Mr. Kanamaru and Mr. Takeuchi of Tokyo Higashi Y's Men's Club.

Many Y's Men and YMCA friends collected large amounts of supplies according to a very precise request from the Japan East relief office and the expressed needs of the people in the affected area.

The van arrived in Sendai in the early morning of Saturday 2 April. Later, when the the volunteers visited some of the affected areas, they were absolutely astonished by the scene of devastation in places they had known before the tsunami hit.


Y's Connections Helping Flow of Aid

31 March 2011 Recently, 30 items of tools, including rakes, forks and shovels were collected and delivered to Sendai YMCA from Tokyo YMCA Myoko Lodge. In addition, the funds from a local Y's Youth Club were used to purchase 2 electric bicycles and 7 shovels that were also donated to Sendai YMCA.

2,400 cans of asparagus were donated from a company in which a Y's Men member is working and these were delivered to Tokyo Tochigi YMCA where many people were evacuated to.

1,000 blankets were also donated by the French Embassy where a friend of a Y's Men member is working.


Rakes, forks and shovels delivered to Sendai YMCA.
2,400 cans of asparagus bound for Tokyo Tochigi YMCA.

Update from Japan General Secretary

Mr Shigeru Shimada

General Secretary

The National Council of YMCAs of Japan

30 March 2011 As of March 29, the government reported the total number of deaths caused by the earthquake and tsunami on March 11 was over 11,000 and the number of missing people was over 19,000 in Tohoku and Kanto area. The total number of deaths is expected to be over 20,000, and it may be hard to clarify the exact number. Over 180,000 people have evacuated because of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis.

The figures cited from in the newspaper from Japan, 29 March, 2011:




Displaced People

































































The situation and the work that YMCAs have done in each area are as follows (Click on images to enlarge):

Iwate:  Morioka YMCA has sent staffs and volunteers to Miyako city, one of the most affected areas. They are working closely with the churches in this area. Yokohama YMCA sent directors to help them for one week, and the National Council of YMCAs of Japan sent special mountaineers too. Staffs and volunteers will be sent there from other YMCAs such as Yokohama YMCA, Kobe YMCA, the National Council of YMCAs of Japan and so on.

Miyako city is the seaside area in Iwate prefecture in the north, and the highest tsunami came there. Over 1,500 people are still missing. It takes more than 10 hours from Tokyo to Miyako by car, and it’s far from Tokyo compared with Miyagi prefecture. Because of the ria coast, most roads were cut off by tsunami. Many senior people live in this area, and they worry about the lack of relief supplies and daily medicine for a long time. Houses were damaged and it’s hard to remove their furniture which is heavier than before because of its muddiness by themselves. Miyako city is the countryside where local tie is strong, and it is also hard to build trust between local people and supporters from outside. YMCA are trying to communicate with them spending much

Ambulance was destroyed by tsunami on the way to first aid. One of the rescue drivers died.
10 days after the tsunami. Many houses fall down all over one another.
Most affected area in Miyako city.
Inside a house where only elderly live. They are at a lost how to clear away debris and keep living here. YMCA volunteers help them.
YMCA volunteers helping elderly residents.
Staff of the Morioka YMCA and a volunteer.
Heavy sludge was cleaned away many times, 20 kg at a time.

Miyagi:  Sendai YMCA started to offer place to stay and foods to help the victims right after the earthquake. We sent the staffs from Kyoto YMCA, Yokohama YMCA, Kobe YMCA and the National Council of YMCAs of Japan to explore the situation and victims’ needs. Tokyo YMCA and Y’s Men’s Clubs brought the relief supplies to the affected area.

Now, electricity and water system are recovered in the area where YMCA locates. Sendai YMCA’s volunteer center was set up on March 22, and they started to support three nearby areas on the coast damaged by tsunami. Local YMCA will send a team of coordinators and volunteers through the National Council of YMCAs of Japan for a week continuously.

This disaster damaged wide area and aftershock is still continuing. While search for missing people continues in many areas, sending volunteers to the affected area is controversial because of lack of the basic needs including gas for cars, and bad traffic. However, it is clear that many issues are not addressed properly by government, and expectancy to NGOs like YMCA which have experience and know-how is high.

Sendai YMCA’s volunteer center was set up on March 22, and they started to support three nearby areas on the coast damaged by tsunami:

Ibaragi: Ibaraki YMCA has helped refugees from Fukushima nuclear reactor threat area by offering child care and recreation programs in cooperation with social welfare council. Tokyo YMCA sent directors and staffs to help their work.

Displaced people stay in the gymnasium where there is no space for children to play, so many children and even adults feel stressed. Local government asked YMCA to offer outdoor programs such as dodge ball, jumping rope, football, catch, and tag. Over 60 volunteers from Ibaraki YMCA and Tokyo YMCA in total have supported this program.

Tochigi: Tochigi YMCA has offered elderly programs in eastern area of Utsunomiya and Haga area where many houses got damaged and they sent 30 volunteers in total to each houses where the elder live by themselves in the affected area to hear their needs. Now, Tochigi YMCA offers day service for the elderly at the evacuation center. In this disaster, the elderly is vulnerable in the affected area at home as well as the evacuation center. Tochigi YMCA is also planning to take care of the people evacuated from the Fukushima nuclear crisis. Tochigi YMCA had some damages in its buildings and facilities.

Tokyo: Tokyo YMCA sent their staffs to the affected areas and helped them plan the rescue activities. They collaborated with Y’s Men’s Club to deliver emergency supplies. A priest who used to be a Tokyo YMCA director works at the church in Sendai, so there is a connection in this area. Tokyo YMCA is considering the possibility of support based on this church.

They collaborated with Y’s Men’s Club to deliver emergency supplies over 350 boxes with volunteers:

Wakuya Church, where a priest who used to be a Tokyo YMCA director works at:

It is near Ishinomaki where is one of most affected areas. They are now considering the possibility of support base on this church to work with young volunteers.

Kanagawa: Yokohama YMCA has sent their staffs to the affected areas to support especially Miyako city where Morioka YMCA is supporting.

YMCA International Youth Center Tozanso: YMCA international youth center Tozanso accepted 15 people who escaped from nuclear crisis, and they will consider accepting more people.

As stated above, YMCAs in eastern part of Japan have worked hard to support the people in the affected area. Other YMCAs also started their action, and over 2,000 people in total joined the donation campaign on the street.

Kobe YMCA and other YMCAs in Kansai/Western area which experienced Great Hanshin earthquake before got many resources and support through their network.

The National Council of YMCAs of Japan is the main office to coordinate nation wide activities and overseas communication. We are working in good cooperation with other NGOs and organizations in national level and set up “Japan Civil Net”, a network of NGOs working for the people in the affected area.

We have collected all the information from the YMCA staffs who went to the affected areas, and asked fund raising from local YMCAs in the other areas and from overseas. All YMCAs in Japan have prepared to send staffs and volunteers to the affected areas when routes and places to stay are ready in the mid-long term.

YMCAs in Japan unite together to raise the fund and to overcome this tragedy. We really appreciate all again and especially to the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs for all the coordination, and we appreciate continuous support and solidarity.

Expat Community Rallies for Japan

28 March 2011 The Japanese business communities of Lyon, France and Geneva, Switzerland have a long history of fellowship through golf. The 28th Lyon Cup was held on 27 March at the Golf Club de Lyon in France with participants enjoying a day of golf that ended with a collection for Gambare Nippon. ISG Nishi and his wife Kumiko were invited to participate in the day and were on-hand to receive the donation. A big thank you to the Japanese golfers of Lyon and Geneva for your contributions. (Click on images to enlarge)

Third and Final Delivery Arrives

24 March 2011 The last of 360 boxes of supplies that had been collected at Tokyo YMCA Myoko Lodge arrived by van in Sendai yesterday. (Click on image to enlarge)

Tokyo Koto Hard at Work

24 March 2011 Several members of the Tokyo Koto Club (Home Club of International President Hirotoshi Fujii) spent last weekend cleaning up the rubble of destroyed buildings in some of the areas affected by the 11 March earthquake. (Click on images to enlarge)

Second Delivery Reaches Sendai

23 March 2011 Yesterday, two dedicated and enthusiatic drivers, Mr Mike Hayashi (pictured third from right) and Mr Nunogami (pictured far right), arrived safely in Sendai with the second delivery from Tokyo YMCA Myoko Lodge in Niigata prefecture. From a total of 360 boxes, just 50 remained at the lodge after the second delivery, with the third delivery of the remaining boxes leaving for Sendai YMCA this morning. (Click on images to enlarge)

Boxes being prepared prior to second delivery to Sendai YMCA

Update from Japan General Secretary

Mr Shigeru Shimada

General Secretary

The National Council of YMCAs of Japan

22 March 2011 As of 22 March, 2011 the Government reported the total death toll caused by  the earthquake and tsunami on 11 March as over 9,000 and people missing as over 12,600 in the Tohoku and Kanto areas.

The figures cited from in the newspaper from Japan, 22 March, 2011:




Houses damaged







2,985 (more)


















Below shows the activities done in YMCAs in the area:

Iwate:  The Morioka YMCA has been sending staff and volunteers to Miyako City, one of the severely damaged cities. They are working closely with the churches in the area.

The Yokohama YMCA will send directors to help them for one week. Also, special mountaineers will be sent there.

Miyagi:  The Sendai YMCA started to help people in community by offering a place to stay and offering food to the victims immediately after the earthquake. They are now sending a team to the affected areas for further investigation for possible activities.

Ibaragi: The Tsukuba YMCA is helping refugees from the Fukushima Nuclear Reactor threat area by  offering child care and recreation programmes in cooperation with the social welfare council.

Tochigi: Offering elderly programmes in the eastern parts of the Utsunomiya and Haga  area, which had damage to many houses. The YMCA is also planning to take care of the people evacuated from the Fukushima Nuclear Reactor threat area. The YMCA had some damage to its buildings and facilities.

Tokyo: The Tokyo YMCA has been sending their staff to the affected areas and helping them plan the rescue activities. They are collaborating with Y’s Men’s Clubs to deliver emergency supplies. Some of the YMCA buildings were damaged.

Kanagawa: The Yokohama YMCA has been sending their staff to the affected areas. Some of the YMCA buildings were damaged.

Fukushima: No YMCA.

The National Council is the main office coordinating nation wide activities and overseas communication. Right now they have been gathering all the information from the YMCA staff members who were sent to the affected areas. The Council is requesting fund raising from local YMCAs in other areas and overseas. All the YMCAs in Japan have been prepared to send staff and volunteers to the places when routes and places to stay are ready in the mid- and long-term. (Click on images to enlarge)

Sendai Hirosegawa Takes First Steps

21 March 2011 In spite of devastating situation in Sendai, the foundation ceremony of a new club, Sendai Hirosegawa, was conducted today at Sendai YMCA during a Japanese national holiday. The cermemony attracted a limited attendance of 22 people including Y's Men and YMCA members. The Club Charter night is scheduled for 15th May and the Club's leadership decided to go ahead with this ceremony as scheduled to show the solidarity and commitment of Y's Men in the local community. (Click on images to enlarge)

YMCA Relief Arrives in Sendai from Tokyo


21 March 2011 300 boxes of supplies arrived at Tokyo YMCA Myoko Lodge in Niigata prefecture with one third of the donated goods being transported to Sendai YMCA with the help and cooperation of many volunteers from the Tokyo Y's Men, Tokyo YMCA and neighbouring people.

The first delivery arrived at Sendai YMCA from Tokyo YMCA Myoko Lodge after 7 hours and 40 minutes with special permission by police to use the highway. 3 motorised bicycles were received with the utmost appreciation.

The remaining emergency supplies at Myoko will be delivered to Sendai YMCA soon. (Click on images to enlarge)

Pictures from Sendai

21 March 2011 Photos of Sendai YMCA in the aftermath of the 11 March earthquake. Sent from the Sendai and Sendai Aobajyo Y's Men Clubs. The earthquake struck at 2.46pm - note the acccuracy of the clock. (Click on images to enlarge)

The clock in a classroom at the Sendai YMCA Hotel School recorded the awful moment.
Three hours after the earthquake, evacuees stayed in the school bus and classrooms of the YCMA kindergarten in the dark.
Head count in the cold morning. 80 evacuees stayed on the first night.
Staff and volunteers helped to prepare meals outdoors.
A room on the 4th floor. Doors pushed out by damaged room contents. No space to step in.
The earthquake hit during the gym programme for children. No children injured.
Evacuees, including children and the elderly, warm themselves by a fire.
With the building still in danger, an emergency telephone was placed outside for members and students to confirm their safety.
Relief supplies from individuals thanks to YMCA efforts.

No Reports of Y's Men Casualties

Due to the unparalleled and widespread devastation caused by an earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck the north-east coast of Japan on Friday 11 March 2011, it has been difficult to confirm the safety of Japanese Y's Men members located in the most affected areas.

On 16 March, Region Japan East announced that all Y's Men members and YMCA staff in the Sendai district were safe. Until now, there have been no reports of Y's Men casualties in Japan.

Photo: Reuters

IP's Expression of Gratitude

To Y’s Men, Y’s Women, Y’s Menettes and Y’s Youths of the World,

As you must have heard already, Japan has suffered unprecedented damage from an earthquake of magnitude 9.0 and the tsunami which followed.

Firstly, I offer my respects to the deceased. I also hope that the wounded will get well again soon and that the sufferers in the refugee camps will be able to maintain their health.

With each day that passes, the number of those killed, missing and wounded rises.  The death toll is expected to surpass 10,000. The damage to the nuclear power stations in the affected area is also a cause of great concern and anxiety.

As the International President from Japan, I would first like to say how deeply touched we all are in Japan by the friendship and compassion shown by the people around the world. We, the International Headquarters and I, have received many personal messages of consolation and encouragement from all corners of the world.

Over 100 countries and numerous organizations have offered assistance. Rescue teams are arriving in succession. The support we have received gives us courage and power.

I would also like to ask you to pray for the Y’s Men who have not been accounted for. There are four Y’s Men’s Clubs in the region including one to be chartered in May. Fortunately I have not received any report of any casualties in Y’sdom except partial destruction of some members’ houses.

The YMCA and Y’s Men in Japan have been quick to respond to this disaster. Sendai YMCA buildings were damaged by the earthquake, but in spite of this, the YMCA has been providing food to the sufferers.

Y’s Men, Y’s Youths and others have joined in the effort. The Japan East Region and the Alliance of YMCAs in Japan have set up headquarters for the relief effort.

Once again, I extend my deepest gratitude for all your prayers, support and compassion as a Y’s Man in Japan as well as International President.


Sincerely yours,

Hirotoshi Fujii

International President 2010/11

Region Japan East Responds to Crisis

Dear Fellow Ys Men in the World,

We thank you very much for your warmhearted words of comfort and  the encouragement given to us after the unprecedented disaster that occurred on 11 March caused by the gigantic earthquake of magnitude 9.0 and the enormous tsunamis more than 10 meters high that followed it.

Although it is said that the death toll will exceed 10,000, we still dont know the whole picture of the damage. All public transportation to the severely affected areas are still closed and the telephone system has not been recovered yet.

In addition, the accidents at the nuclear plants have caused extensive power outages including the Tokyo Metropolitan area and are causing fear and confusion for us.

In these situations your thoughtfulness is the precious source of our energy.

Fortunately, so far no severe damage to any Ys Mens families or YMCA buildings in the affected area have been reported and Ys Men there have already started supporting the victims by providing warm food in cooperation with the Sendai YMCA.

Our Japan East Region has also already organised headquarters for supporting projects and would like to get over this crisis with a united effort by Japanese Ys Men with your support.

Please continue praying for the victims and strengthen us.


Ysly and cordially,

Toshihiko Matsuda

Regional Director 2010/11 - Japan East Region

Hirotoshi Fujii

International President 2010/11 (Japan East Region)

Kazuhiko Takata

Area President 2010/11 - Asia Area (Japan East Region)

Social Networks

Follow us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterFollow us on LinkedinFollow us on Youtube

© Y's Men International 1998-2016

Avenue Sainte Clotilde 9, CH-1205 Geneva, Switzerland