Solidarity with Japan

Solidarity with Japan: 7 months of support actions with the Japanese Red Cross

October 28, 2011

Seven months after the devastating earthquake of magnitude 9 on the Richter scale followed by a destructive tsunami, the Tohoku region in the northeast of Japan is now undergoing widespread reconstruction. There are visible signs of material renovation, but the process of psychological reconstruction will be much slower. “It will take at least five years to rebuild everything, but healing the psychological scars may take much longer”, says Tadateru Kono, President of the Japanese Red Cross.

© Japanese Red Cross

Immediately after the disaster on March 11, 2011, Sanofi Espoir Foundation suggested that employees from all Sanofi sites around the world rally around the Japanese subsidiary and demonstrate their solidarity with all those affected by the catastrophe. With €1 million offered by the Foundation, and a further €250,000 in donations from employees, everyone worked together to help set up emergency and post-emergency programs in three main areas:


Recreating social bonds

© Japanese Red Cross
/ Masaki Kamei

Relocating people who had lost everything was a top priority. The Japanese Red Cross has already helped to relocate 82,000 families to temporary homes. The program will eventually cover 110,000 families.

However, many of these victims found themselves in temporary homes amidst new neighbors, creating an even greater sense of isolation. That is why the Red Cross is striving to recreate social bonds by organizing activities to help integrate these uprooted people.

For example, a free bus system has been set up to facilitate access to shops, schools and other vital day-to-day services, and computers have been provided for children in Fukushima who are not allowed to play outside for security reasons.

Restoring access to care

The Japanese Red Cross has been fielding 820 medical teams over the last six months for a total of 83,816 patients. These teams have now handed the task over to local clinics, a sign that essential health services are now operational again. At the same time, the Red Cross distributed adjustable beds for older people requiring special care (673 beds were provided in 115 nursing homes), and materials for 62 clinics.

Most hospitals and clinics in the affected area were damaged or destroyed. The Japanese Red Cross is planning to set up several temporary hospitals, to ease the pressure on the overcrowded prefabricated hospitals, pending the construction of permanent healthcare facilities by the Government within five years.

Providing essential psychological support

Before the disaster, the Tohoku region was inhabited mostly by older people. The psychosocial support program is primarily focused on children, the elderly and vulnerable people.

To date, 586 participants have provided counseling to nearly 14,000 people in the three most affected prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima.

Key figures

  • In late August, the human toll amounted to 15,741 victims and 4,467 missing, according to the Japanese police.
  • Nearly 8,650 people are still housed in evacuation centers (gyms, schools or community centers) and more than 40,355 people have moved into temporary homes.
  • In late August, more than 48,600 prefabricated homes were set up out of 52,348 planned.
  • The Japanese Red Cross has provided kits of household appliances (TV, refrigerators, microwaves, kettles, washing machines and cookers) to 82,000 relocated families with the aim of reaching about 110,000 families.
  • In late August, the Japanese Red Cross had received more than 2.5 billion euros in national donations.