Updates from Post-Earthquake Japan

I feel as if a week has passed since the earthquake occurred. There are many strong aftershocks felt even in Tokyo. As of this morning the Tokyo Electric Company is cutting off distribution of electricity according to a so-called “Planned Suspension of Electric Power” in consecutive areas. For example, in Chofu we will have no electricity from 9:30am until 12:30pm and from 6:30pm until 9:30pm. You can easily imagine the confusion in metropolitan Tokyo today as workers try to get to their jobs. All the transportation companies are cutting off their services by 50 to 70 percent. Many companies have not even begun to renew their train services…

Our CND sisters in Fukushima have no heat and no water. They are all bundled up. The older sisters are managing without an elevator. The sisters who went to get water from the city supply had to line up for four hours before they could get some water… The Nodamachi house is still full with people who escaped from the Tsunami….

Of course the public transportation services in Fukushima are also very scarce and irregular. Among our teachers and students, those who are near enough, either use their bicycles or walk to school. In the Sendai area there are still many elementary school students, high school students and others who are waiting to be rescued…

We will know more about the families of our sisters as the telephone lines are restored little by little. There seems to be no loss of life among our families…

There is no particular news regarding the nuclear plant so far, but there is fear of a possible hydrogen explosion in the third reactor if they are not successful in cooling the air…

This morning’s newspaper tells us that in Miyagi Prefecture alone the number of deaths will definitely exceed 10,000. We can hardly believe the news as we receive it…

I have simply reported things as they came to my mind, so I hope you understand. Please continue to be with us and pray for us.

Kyoko Terashima, CND
Province leader for Japan

One week has passed since this unimaginable earthquake hit us. As of today we count 6,405 confirmed dead. 17,607 are still missing. The primary task was to rescue as many victims as possible with the help of many rescue teams from abroad, but the shift is being made now to support evacuated people. During the past two days the temperature has dropped as low as minus 5 degrees Celsius in many places, much colder than the average temperature for this time. TV newscasts show us heavy snowfalls while some of the evacuees are gathering the snow accumulated on the cars in their bags to use for toilet purposes. There is a shortage of oil and gas or none at all, not to mention water and food supplies. A lot of main roads have been repaired, so we hope by tomorrow they will have
oil transported from the South. It is indeed heart-breaking to see people who are looking for their family members among carefully
arranged coffins, or walking among the ruins in the rain or snow searching for their dear ones.

Many high school students in evacuation are playing an important role to make life of a little easier for people in the various evacuation centres. The students are a very good inspiration to many people. Their good will, though they cannot do much is slowly and gently spreading like a ripple in the water. Our major worry is now the nuclear station, as you can easily imagine. The self-defense army is to spray more water towards the third reactor, using specially built trucks. The trucks were collected from several airports. We are informed that the self- defense team will begin the work as soon as the backup generators are restored. They expect to finish the work by 2:00pm. Meanwhile many inhabitants within 30km are evacuating mostly to the neighboring prefectures, becausethere are no more safe centres in Fukushima Prefecture. The US government’s warning released by its government is 80km, we hear. That means we in Fukushima City are also is included.

The blackout planned by the Government and the Tokyo Electric Power Plant seems working well, though the sudden practice which took place yesterday afternoon caused many train stations swell up with passengers going home from work. People were jammed everywhere, but there was no confusion thanks to good management of so many people concerned.

Thank you so much for the prayers offered for us in many different ways.  Thank you for “the prayer service” and “Prayer for Japan” which we greatly appreciate. Please keep your prayers coming.

As for our schools in Fukushima, we made the decision to start the new school year only in May. (Of course we will begin as soon as we are ready. It is impossible for the companies to transport materials or even to move their own a car because of shortage of gas, etc. We have to rearrange the whole set up of Hanazono cho Campus to meet the necessity of the Kindergarten.) March is the end of the school year. The New school year usually begins around April 5 for the students surrounded by beautiful cherry blossoms.
A good news popped in just now! The water near Hanazono cho area is back! They will be able to take baths tomorrow. Let me tell you how often we thought of the African people who have not enough water or electricity. We were much in solidarity with them!

Again, I ended up writing you a long letter. Thank you for your continued prayers especially for the nuclear risk.

A Prayer for Japan (SHCJ)
March 14, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Please join us in praying for all those who have been affected by the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Now is a time to sit in silence and know
God is God.

God is our shelter, our strength, ever ready to help in times of trouble,
so we shall not be afraid when the earth gives way,
when mountains tumble into the depths of the sea,
and its waters roar and seethe,
the mountains tottering as it heaves. (Psalm 46.1-3)
As our man-made nuclear plants melt and burn and even explode.

Hear this all nations,
Pay attention all who live on earth,
important people, ordinary people,
rich and poor alike. (Psalm 49.1)
Those battered by quakes and seas,
The children, women and men torn from this life;
Those left to watch in horror.

Now is a time to sit in silence and know
God is God.

This I know: God is on our side,
In God we put trust, fearing nothing. (Psalm 56.12)

Take pity on us, God, take pity on us.
In you we take shelter.
We take shelter in the shadow of your wings
until the destruction is over. (Psalm 57.2;3)

God of our broken hearts, of leave-taking and loss,
of the gray silence of day fall, my greetings of the ruined house to You.
Light of the newborn morning, sun of the everlasting day,
My greetings of undying hope to You. (Tagore)

Give us, O Lord God, compassion for the forsaken,
strength to bury the dead,
cooperation to clear and rebuild, for the earth and all who dwell therein are

Now is the time to sit in silence and know

God is God.
God is good.

Special thanks to Sr. Catherine Quinn for writing this prayer.

The SASV have had religious in Japan since 1934.  Right now there are 28 religious, all Japanese and they live in Urawa near Tokyon, in Aomori and Hirosaki in the diocese of Sendai (epicenter of the earthquake).

Below are excerpts from 3 letters of Sister Nemoto, the official representative to let you know about the Sisters:

Letter 1

Dear Sister,

I am very sorry to tell you that Fr Lachapel p.m.died yesterday. This morning Fr Shuto said Mass for him in our chapel at Aomori. We don’t know the details of his death. I headr only that Fr Aime was called to examine his dead body. Fr Lachapel went to Sendai to get his passport and he returned rapidly to his parish because of the earthquake. We have no communication Fr Aizu and Fr Onodera who had been in charge of Namiuchi Church of Aomori. They are working for the areas where the huge tidal wave attacked.

I have had communication with Sr Hasegawa of Hirosaki. She said they had electricity failure.

As you know by TV, the cover of the atomic energy system was broken. There was damage to the system which cools the center core of the reactor. It is very dangerous. This evening’s news says there are already 160 victims contaminated.

There are many places where people were left. However there are no communication systems. Even if they realize that there are refugees in destroyed buildings, schools, temples,etc, they can’t approach to help them. The land is covered with sea water as the ground subsided. They have no means to take them out. The situation forces them to stay there although of course they must be given everything to live on for a while. There are many villages and towns which disappeared completely in the tide wave. Now it is very urgent to find the refugees and supply them with the necessary things to live as soon as possible.

Yesterday I told you all the trains had stopped everywhere. The workers couldn’t go home. The government ordered us to open the school buildings or hotels for such peoples. There were many people who walked more than 7or 8 hours to go home. In our kindergarten of Urawa, a child’s mother couldn’t come. So Sr Narita Ryo took care of him. The mother arrived at 10:30p.m. The teachers of nursery schools have all experienced the same.

The TV announces we will be restricted in our use of electricity from tomorrow. We will have some hours without electricity. Japan is now in a state of emergency.

Always expecting your prayers,
Nobuko Nemot, sasv

Letter 2

Dear Sister,

This morning I got more information about the death of Fr Lachapel. He died from shock in his car. Please pray for him. You know the areas where the earthquake happened belongs to our Sendai Diocese. There are some churches in those places. Please pray for our Sendai diocese. This morning the East Japan Electric Company took decisive action. They stopped the electric current three hours a day according to the planning for divided sections. All the transportation systems are restricted. We can’t use light, telephone, water, and signals. There are many big companies like Sony, Nissan, etc. which stopped operations.

This proceeding will keep on until next month. Right now (10:20am) I felt a shake and switched on TV which says the earthquake of M.6 happened in the sea off Miyagi prefecture. The people of Ibaragi, Chiba, Saitama, Tochigi felt the shake: M3 or M4. There is another big nuclear plant in Ibaragi.

I count on your prayers.

Letter 3

Dear Sister,

I start with the good news that Fr Aizu and Fr Onodera who had been missing were found in safety. About Fr Lachapelle, p.m.e. I gave you the wrong information. He was found dead on the road. Fortunately he had been with his passport. Tonight his funeral services will be held in Sendai.

Yesterday I was able to connect with Sr Yokoyama’s sister who is living in Hirosaki. She told me that her brother and his family who are in Sendai were safe. Some Sisters’ (Srs Onodera, Takeda, Saito, Kyoko, Hayasaka, Yokoyama) families are living in Sendai. All their families are in safe places.

Fukushima’s nuclear power plant is still in danger. Please pray that the most terrible danger will be stopped.

We don’t know how many persons died. It is reported that numerous dead bodies have been found. About 450,000 persons have taken refuge in 2,546 places. They don’t have enough food, water, blankets, or medicines. Today the weather is not good. It is cold and snowy. The radio says that there are some places which do not have supplies yet. Around here, the electric failure enforcement plan is in effect. The trains stop or run slow. We must endure this inconvenience.

Please continue to pray.
Nobuko Nemoto, s.a.s.v.