Humanitarian Crisis in Japan

We track the humanitarian efforts in northern Japan in the wake of last weeks massive earthquake and tsunami.


Humanitarian Crisis in Japan - Dave Toycen

We started this segment with a clip from Abey Masake. He's a doctor at the hospital in Ishinomaki. It's a coastal city in eastern Japan ... one of the cities hit hardest by last week's tsunami. But now, a week later, Doctor Masake isn't seeing very many people who were hurt during the tsunami. These days, his waiting room is mostly filled with elderly people suffering from too much time in the cold and not enough to eat.

The crisis at the Fukushima nuclear complex has justifiably attracted the world's attention and concern. But the earthquake and tsunami have created a humanitarian crisis too. Nearly half-a-million people have been displaced. Snowstorms have blanketed north-eastern Japan. Temperatures have dipped below freezing. And it is proving difficult to get food and basic supplies to everyone who needs it. Hiromi Haraguchi lives in Kamaishi, a coastal town. And he says his town needs blankets and much more.

World Vision is one of the international aid groups on the ground in Japan, responding to the disaster. Dave Toycen is the CEO of World Vision Canada. He was in Sendai, in northeastern Japan.

Humanitarian Crisis in Japan - Joel Charny

Despite the scope of the humanitarian crisis, Japanese officials, as we just heard, aren't asking for a lot of help. And in some instances, it has actually turned down aid.

Joel Charny says foreign aid groups should draw some important lessons from that. He is the Vice President for Humanitarian Policy and Practice at InterAction. It's an umbrella organization for U.S.-based international non-governmental organizations. He was in Washington.

Humanitarian Crisis in Japan - Louise Comfort

For a sense of how prepared the Japanese Government is to respond to a crisis like this, we were joined by Louise Comfort. She's a professor of Public and International Affairs and Director of the Center for Disaster Management at the Graduate School for Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. Among other things, she has studied the Japanese Government's response to the devastating earthquake that struck Kobe in 1995. She's also the author of a book on earthquake responses call Shared Risk: Complex Systems in Seismic Response. Louise Comfort was in Pittsburgh.

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