Earthquake in Japan - Update from Hikari Kokai Chang

Earthquake in Japan - Update from Hikari Kokai Chang


It was Thursday, April 14th when the southern island of Kyushu in Japan was hit by a M6.5 earthquake. On Saturday, another M7.3 quake caused even more damage. In particular, the Kumamoto Prefecture - the epicenter of the quake - was hit so hard that numerous buildings collapsed and caught fire.  Infrastructures across Kyushu were severely damaged, and landslides caused by quakes made relief work more difficult. Despite their difficult circumstances, many NGOs and religious organizations, including churches in Kumamoto and the surrounding area, formed a disaster relief network and are now aiding communities.

As of today, the official report tells us that 47 people have died, more than 3,000 have been injured, and 95,000 have been evacuated from their homes due to the disaster. Since last Friday, many people are sleeping outside or in cars in fear of further disaster caused by more than 500 aftershocks which is still continuing until now.  Even those who evacuated to near-by shelters have been suffering from lack of physical supplies as well as emotional stability.
Besides fear of other big earthquakes, people are now deeply concerned about the nuclear power plants in Kyushu - in particular, the two reactors running 120 km (74 miles) northeast from the epicenter of the earthquake. The government, however, has decided there is no need for shutting down the plants, despite urgent requests from many citizens and activists in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima meltdown crisis.

As for the situation of the UMC missionaries serving in Japan (currently 7 of us), we are all safe and far from the Kumamoto prefecture. But our minds and hearts are restless, knowing that many lives were affected by another earthquake disaster.  In the midst of this difficulty, we are very thankful for concerns and prayers sent by sisters and brothers in Christ from around the world, especially from the UMC network including NYAC. We hear on the news that money, supplies, and labor support from all over Japan and beyond have been poured into the Kumamoto area. 

Japan has experienced natural disasters many times in the past, so we have learned many ways to prepare and deal with another one.  Yet of course, there is no easy way to heal suffering and pain among people and to rebuild communities which were destroyed.  But, as people of faith, our hope is in Christ who will never forsake us but walk with us as we start to hold people up in distress and move forward to recovery.  And I believe we are called for that work in order to serve God and God’s children in Japan right at this moment.

As I write this report, I am also worried of the situation in Ecuador. The damage caused by a similar sized earthquake seems much worse than in Japan.
We would like to send our prayers to the people and churches in Ecuador, and stand in solidarity for the work of rebuilding our communities with love.  NYAC Friends, please continue to remember Japan and Ecuador in your prayers. 

Shalom, Salaam, Peace, Paz,

Rev. Hikari Kokai Chang, Chief Executive Director 
#301 Wesley Center 6-10-11 Minami Aoyama Minato-ku
Tokyo 107-0062, Japan
Tel : 03.6427.4696 Fax : 03.6427.4697