Miyagi prefecture says no to volunteers for Golden Week

TOKYO (majirox news) So many helping hands. Many communities in Miyagi prefecture have stopped accepting new volunteers, at least during Golden Week, as they cannot handle the tremendous number of people coming to help out, according to Asahi Shimbun. However, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures have said that they will continue to welcome volunteers.

Golden Week runs from the end of April through roughly May 5 in Japan and features a number of different Japanese national holidays. Many Japanese offices close for a week to 10 days, depending on the calendar.

The number of victims in Miyagi of the earthquake and tsunami amounts to more than 60 percent of the total population, making it the hardest-hit of the three prefectures, all in NE Japan.

According to Japan’s National Social Welfare, as of April 20, some 130,000 volunteers have volunteered their time and services to assist the three prefectures (Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima). Miyagi accounts for about 73,000 of these.

The large number of volunteers has led to traffic jams and reduced working hours. Thus, for example, it now takes twice the amount of time to get from Ishinomaki City to Sendai City by car.

Still, those areas that have been badly hit require more volunteers, as there is a large demand for help. Nevertheless, these volunteer efforts need be more organized, and volunteers need to be offered practical opportunities so as to be of service.

For instance, Sugawara, an earthquake victim, said, “It took about two weeks for a temporary service to finally get around to moving the bed and furniture that had been ruined out of my house.”

Meanwhile, a volunteer from Tokyo said, “I came here to volunteer but was unable to find any jobs to do.”

Hyogo’s Social Welfare claimed to face the same problems after the earthquake, inducing the organization to set up an information center in the parking lot on Tohoku Road, at which people could obtain information before exiting the highway, thus helping volunteers to identify and address actual issues.

catmakino@majrioxnews.com
takeshi@majrioxnews.com

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