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Buddhism

Back to listApr 2, 2011

Fukushima Members Hold Onto Hope Despite Evacuation

The discussion meeting held at the Fukushima Peace HallThe discussion meeting held at the Fukushima Peace Center

Following the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunamis in Japan, ongoing problems at the Daiichi nuclear power plant have strongly affected Fukushima Prefecture. In the face of this crisis, Soka Gakkai members have been helping to restore hope to those in their communities.

Around 100 Soka Gakkai members living in the coastal region of Fukushima Prefecture who had to evacuate their homes due to the earthquake or tsunami damage or radiation risks, have taken refuge at the Soka Gakkai Fukushima Peace Center in Fukushima City, which is outside the evacuation zone. On March 24, a discussion meeting with the theme of "Hope and Advancement" was held to encourage those staying there. 

The exchange meeting for evacuees held in NihonmatsuThe exchange meeting for evacuees held in Nihonmatsu

At the meeting, participants offered prayers for all the victims of the earthquake and tsunamis. Kunie Takezawa shared how she has been able to participate in relief efforts through helping to prepare meals for those at the shelter, as she has a professional cooking license.

Mr. Nirasawa (from right), visits members in Minamisoma CityMr. Nirasawa (from right), visits members in Minamisoma City

Itsuko Sudo, another evacuee staying at the center, shared that having time to chant daimoku at the center has helped her to be strong and have hope in the face of all the devastation. At the meeting, prefectural Soka Gakkai leaders Masahiko Endo and Masako Ishibashi encouraged the evacuees, sharing Nichiren’s spirit of “turning poison into medicine” or transforming misfortune into a positive force for change.

On March 28, some 30 Soka Gakkai members who had left the affected area of Minamisoma City and taken shelter at an evacuation site in Nihonmatsu City, held a daimoku meeting at the house of a local Soka Gakkai member. Yuko Yamaguchi, one evacuee who attended the meeting, shared how the warmhearted encouragement she received made her determine to have a never- defeated spirit.

Mr. Endo (from right) had visiting refuge centers in Iwaki CityMs. Araki (center) expresses her determination to Mr. Endo

On March 29, Kazuo Nirasawa, regional leader of Soka Gakkai in Tohoku, Hidehiro Kato, Tohoku Youth Group leader, and Tomoyuki Sakurai, leader of the young men's Sokahan volunteer group visited the safe areas of Minamisoma City and Iitate Village as part of a relief team. They delivered food and relief goods to numerous senior citizens in this area who have been suffering from a shortage of food and other essential items.

On April 2, Fukushima leaders Mr. Endo and Ms. Ishibashi visited refuge centers in Iwaki City to encourage the local Soka Gakkai members there. 87 year-old Miyoko Araki stated, "I was lucky to survive such a devastating disaster. I want to exert myself once again in Buddhist activities for the sake of peace. Please extend my deep gratitude to the SGI members throughout the world for praying for us."

Prayer meeting at the SGI-USA Chicago Culture Center held on March 24Prayer meeting at the SGI-USA Chicago Culture Center held on March 24

SGI members throughout the world have been holding special prayer meetings for those that have lost their lives in the earthquake and tsunamis and for the fast and safe recovery of the affected regions. In Chicago, USA, such a meeting was held on March 24, at the SGI-USA Chicago Culture Center. Barbara Jenkins, an SGI-USA leader in the area, shared how she was inspired by the spirit of the Soka Gakkai members who are exerting all their effort to encourage and support one another in the face of this crisis.

 

[Adapted from articles in the March 26, 28, 30, 31 and April 4, 2011, issues of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of Seikyo Shimbun]