Japan (MNN) — It’s been about three and a half years since the triple disaster–earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster–hit Japan and devastated hundreds of thousands. (Refresh your memory here).
We spoke to Joe Handley of Asian Access about what Japan looks like in light of these disasters still today.
He says, generally, “Things are much better in terms of infrastructure. The biggest problem that persists, though, is housing and of course the nuclear site in Fukushima that they’re still trying to clean up. Those are the two biggest challenges.”
The government predicted that most people would be out of temporary housing within two years. But the challenges have proved harder to overcome than anticipated.
“There are 89,000 people that are still living in temporary housing,” Handley says. “Over and above that, there’s another 90,000 people living in various forms of public or private housing units provided by the local governments. So you have a lot of people that are still displaced, still seeking hope in the midst of a disaster that hit three fairly sizable prefectures in Japan.”
Handley says that while the government of Japan is still working diligently to repair land in order to rebuild homes, these victims of disaster have been left and forgotten by most of the world. In one prefecture, Hadley says, there are about 50% of homes that can be rebuilt, but still a long way to go.
Meanwhile, the temporary housing has surpassed its designed time of existence. Many of the houses continue to deteriorate, causing concern for the upcoming winter.
When the disasters hit in March of 2011, Asian Access was able to minister to the people affected. Along with physical aid, they were able to bring truth of the Gospel along avenues that were never open before.
Asian Access partnered with many aid teams that came over just after the fact.
As time went on, these short-term mission teams came over less frequently, and other aid subsided.
Handley explains that as most of the world began to move on and forget about Japan, many Christians remained to minister to these people in need. This kindness caught the attention of many of the victims and caused them to turn to Christ.
“Those churches, ministry centers, and missionaries that are on the ground will continue to reach out. But unfortunately, much of this has been forgotten by the world,” Handley says.
He says the need is still very great even though the work their partners are doing has been good. “We need to pray and then see people come and live and really bring the hope of Christ.”
It can be difficult to know where to focus our prayer and time when there are so many things going wrong in the world. But each person has a unique calling. Perhaps God is calling you to help Japan.
Handley says, “This is a unique moment for the life of Japan, and it is no time to back out. Yet, most of the world has forgotten Japan. The needs are enormous, and Asian Access is prepared to receive anyone that would come.”
The financial needs are also enormous. Consider financial help as well.
For more information on partnering with Asian Access, click here.