One day shy of eight months from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints traveled to a remote area along the coast of Tohoku, Japan, and presented equipment and supplies to the devastated fishermen in that region. The donation is in addition to the support already given by the Church in Sendai and other villages this year.
In the town of Kuji, the Church provided three trucks, 4,500 nets, 3,000 octopus cages, and various other fishing supplies to the local fishermen’s cooperative. Kuji has a population of about 35,000 people, with 1,200 fishermen. The fishing fleet was virtually destroyed. Kenichiro Saikachi, who heads the fishermen’s co-op, thanked the Church for the donation. “For us who received the shock of this great disaster, the donation today from your church is a reassuring act of kindness,” Saikachi said.
Driving 30 minutes down the rocky coastline, a team of Church leaders and staff made a similar presentation in the small village of Noda Mura. Before the tsunami there were 4,000 residents. Many people died and most of the houses were destroyed; fishing, the mainstay of the economy, also suffered. The Church’s donation included trucks with refrigeration equipment and fish tanks, a forklift, a large-volume digital scale, and 70 large containers for hauling the day’s catch. Both the mayor and the head of the co-op were visibly moved by the help they had received from people they were not aware of before the earthquake and tsunami.
The donations to the villages were suggested by President Domon Kazumoto, local leader of the Odate congregation of the Church. He had done business with Kyoichi Shimizu, a recently elected member of the Iwate prefectural assembly. Shimizu expressed his deep appreciation to President Kazumoto and the people of the Church who had come to the area “as if they were our own brothers and sisters.” He recognized that the humanitarian aid that paid for these donations had come from members all over the world in an effort to help Japan get the villages back on their feet.
The donations, added to nearly 22,000 Church-sponsored Mormon Helping Hands volunteers who have worked in the region, are part of an ongoing effort by the Church to help the people in Tohoku recover from the March 11, 2011, disaster, now referred to as the Great East Japan Earthquake.