【December 2018 No.400】The Response of the Kyodan and Its Districts to the 2018 Natural Disasters

In the early morning hours of September 6, a severe earthquake struck the eastern part of the Iburi district of Hokkaido. Measuring in spots up to a magnitude of 7.0 on the Japan Meteorological Agency’s Seismic Intensity Scale, the earthquake caused large-scale landslides, complete power failure across the entire island, and various disruptions of lifelines, resulting in 41 deaths. Reportedly, many families are still suffering with after-effects. Damage to churches and related buildings was not so severe, but with the help of other districts, Hokkai District has been transporting relief supplies to the heavily damaged areas of the eastern part of Iburi and is calling for funds from the entire church. Kyodan Secretary Kumoshikari Toshimi paid an official visit to the affected area, and the Kyodan is actively supporting Hokkai District in its efforts to provide mental and spiritual care.

There has been a spate of natural disasters in recent months. In July, the Kyodan set up the “West Japan Emergency Relief Fund” and called on all Kyodan churches to contribute. The donations received were added to the financial support received from the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT) and has been used to repair damage to churches and for general relief efforts related not only to the floods in western Japan but also to the earthquake in northern Osaka, Typhoon 21 (Jebi), and now the East Iburi Earthquake. So the request from Hokkai District is being dealt with carefully to avoid wasteful overlap.

Unlike the response to the Great East Japan Disaster of 2011 and the Kumamoto-Oita Earthquake, when the Kyodan set up a Response and Support Center under  the Executive Committee, this time a “Relief Planning Committee” has been formed under the general secretary, who will oversee these operations. In this time of climate change, there will no doubt continue to be large-scale natural disasters, so the Kyodan needs to take a further look at how best to respond.

Already the Kyodan is proactively working in mutual support with each district to send relief supplies and volunteers to disaster areas. Likewise, solidarity and exchanges are being furthered not only among Kyodan

churches but also interdenominationally—particularly among churches near affected areas —and internationally, as various church-related relief organizations send volunteers to assist. Thus, based on such experiences so far, the goal now is to further the development of this network of Kyodan churches and districts, together with other denominations both in Japan and overseas, to deal with these situations.

As mentioned above, the PCT as well as the United Church of Christ in the U.S. has sent funds to help with the relief efforts following the western Japan floods. Likewise, the Kyodan responded to the earthquake disaster in the Donggala district of the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia by sending funds through the Gereja Masehi Injili di Minahasa (GMIM) [Christian Evangelical Church in Minahasa]. Also, the Kyodan sent $10,000 through the Evangelisches Missionswerk in Solidaritat (EMS) to help with the relief efforts in the state of Kerala in India deal with the floods that occurred there in July, which took the lives of over 20,000 people. (Tr. TB)

—Akiyama Toru, general secretary

(Excerpt from a report given at the 41st Kyodan General Assembly)

 

北海道胆振(Iburi)東部地震

秋山 徹総幹事

 9月6日未明に震度7の地震が北海道胆振東部地区を襲い、大規模な地滑り、また北海道全域にわたる停電、ライフラインの途絶などの被害が報道され、今も多くの被災家庭があることが伝えられています。命を落とされたのは、41名。教会や付属建物の被害は限定的なものですが、各教区との連携のもとに北海教区は甚大な被害のあった胆振東部地方への支援物資の運搬配布など積極的に取り組み、全教区宛に支援募金を呼び掛けています。教団としては、雲然書記が被災地区を問安しました。今後、北海教区では、継続的な心のケア活動が計画されています。教団も要請に応えて支援してゆくことになります。

 今回の連続した災害において、教団としては台湾基督長老教会(PCT)からの支援金のほか、委員会を窓口にして7月に起こった「西日本緊急救援募金」を全教会によびかけていますが、この募金の使途として西日本豪雨の被災教会・被災地の救援活動のほか、大阪北部地震、台風21号、北海道胆振東部地震の救援活動のためにも合わせて用いさせていただくことにします。北海道教区からの呼びかけに対しては、屋上屋を重ねないようにします。

 今回は、教団として東日本大震災や熊本大分地震の時のように常議員会のもとに救援対策室を設けないで、総幹事のもとに「救援対策委員会」を設け幹事を中心に対応にあたりました。気候変動に伴う大規模災害が今後も続くと思われます。この状況に即して教団はどのような体制でこれに臨むか検討を要します。

 また、今回の災害では各教区間の連絡と連携が進んで、互いの問安と被災地への物資の供給、ボランティアの派遣などが積極的に行われました。また、教団の教会だけでなく被災地の近隣教会が教派を超えて地域の支援活動を展開し、これに国際的なキリスト者の災害救援組織も加わり海外からも多くのボランテイアが派遣されてきてその交わりが広がりました。このような経験を積み重ねてさらに災害に対応する教会、教区間、教派間、国際救援団体間のネットワークづくりが今後の課題となってきます。

 西日本豪雨の救援活動のために、前述の台湾基督長老教会(PCT)をはじめ、アメリカのUCCからの献金も寄せられています。また、教団として、インドネシアのスラウェシ島のドンガラ地域の大地震被災支援者のためにGMIMを通して献金します。また、今年7月に起こったインドのケララ州での洪水で2万人以上者もの死者が出ましたが、EMSの支援活動に合わせて1万ドルをお送りしています。
(教団総会での総幹事による「西日本豪雨等災害への教団・教区についての報告」より抜粋)