Then and Now


Uploaded by paultemporal on 07.05.2012

Transcript:
Ishinomaki, Japan
MAIN TITLE
MAN: Just as my mother and I were talking...
...about how to bring my aunt inside the house...
April 2011
...there was a loud crash...
...as I saw a huge truck sweep by right before my eyes.
WOMAN 1: My husband said he had to go back to get our mortuary tablet...
...but I told him we just had to escape.
Just as we reached higher ground, the tsunami arrived.
WOMAN 2: The water kept coming, it was like a river.
As fast as I could, I used the outside stairs to get to the second floor.
The entire road was water.... Water.
I screamed to my mother...
...but she ran to the living room and opened the window...
...and grabbed her sister to help her get inside.
I saw the tsunami, looked to my mother and then back to the tsunami.
One, two, three. And then it hit.
My family's story ended in that moment.
Everyone was dead.
Hmm.
At my restaurant, the tsunami reached a height of 2.20 m.
The first floor was totally destroyed...
...and so I was put out of business.
My uncle's house...
...was in Kadonowaki-cho...
...but everything was swept away except for the foundation.
All his memories were washed away.
Dwelling on memories and looking back...
...has no value anymore.
The tsunami took people's lives away...
...obliterated houses...
...and stole the lives of family members.
It destroyed everyone's lives.
I didn't lose many people close to me...
...but there are many people...
...who lost their whole family.
November 2011
[CHILDREN CHATTERING AND LAUGHING]
FUJITA: There were so many cars piled up here at the school grounds.
The tsunami came from over there...
...where the Pacific Ocean is.
So many people and cars were washed along...
...and crashed into the school...
...piling up here.
Endless cars.
A huge fire broke out after the tsunami.
Mothers, fathers...
...children, grandparents...
...all burned to death in the fire.
And cars kept piling into the school.
People couldn't open their car doors.
The fire burned and burned...
...for a very long time.
Only people who were able to make it up the hill...
...behind the school survived.
Everyone down there died.
FUJITA: Even now, we have no answer for the question:
[IN ENGLISH] "What shall we do?"
[IN JAPANESE] Without finding that answer...
...eight months have already gone by.
YAMAKAMI: If the national or prefectural government...
...could show us just one light at the end of the tunnel...
...then every survivor could do their best to reach it.
But there's no light...
...so everyone's in the dark.
People are committing suicide.
I have no kitchen, no bath, no living room.
Mr. Yamakami Survivor & Volunteer
All I have is a bedroom upstairs.
Could these politicians live in a place like this for even a month or two?
When I speak about Ishinomaki, it's hard to even imagine it recovering.
Basically impossible.
Toshihiko Fujita Koganehama Community Hall
I'm afraid that it won't happen.
What I mean is...
...we can reconstruct buildings and houses...
...but when it comes to people's spirit, it's very difficult.
People need to have heart-to-heart conversations.
As you may already know, at the temporary housing facilities...
...people don't know who their neighbors are...
...so people don't talk to each other.
No conversation.
There's no human contact between people.
So what we have to do first is extend our hands to people feeling isolated...
...people in despair, people crying all the time.
And ask them, "How are you doing?"
Then I thought, "Let's set up a soup kitchen!"
There was a neighborhood association set up to help survivors.
But they decided to stop, which was a decision I couldn't accept.
Especially with so many people needing help.
So I said, "I'll take over," and that's how I started running this place.
We have to start from there.
If we don't, people who feel isolated will choose to kill themselves.
People can't see any kind of future.
Two people I know have already committed suicide.
I think mothers are still struggling...
Takako Abe Kazuma Kindergarten
...and don't feel closure yet.
About one out of every two people are unemployed.
They're not able to find jobs.
Ishinomaki is located along the ocean.
There were many fish processing plants where a lot of the mothers were working.
Now that all the factories are gone, they don't have jobs.
To take their next steps forward...
...I feel what they need most is to work.
FUJITA: In Ishinomaki, 10 people commit suicide a month.
That's one person every three days.
They have no vision of a brighter future, so they choose death as an easy way out.
It's a big challenge to restart our business again.
But without trying, we feel like we may have an emotional breakdown...
...and become listless.
Mr. & Mrs. Sato Kotobukiya Liquor Store
People might see it as foolish, but we'd like to try as long as possible...
...even if it's only for one or two years, right?
That's right. We'll definitely try!
We were in an evacuation shelter for three months.
We had nothing to do there and...
...both of us became sick.
Now I am selling ramen in a truck...
...belonging to a restaurant called Shochiku.
Takahiro Chiba Ex-Sushi Chef
I gave up on restarting my restaurant and was unemployed.
But I began to help out at Shochiku, which my friend owns.
Now I'm waiting for my U.S. work visa.
I've been asking them to issue it sooner, but I haven't got it yet.
"Give me my visa, damn it!"
[IN ENGLISH] Heh, heh, heh. Give me visa.
Under these circumstances...
...we all wanted to do something to change the character of Ishinomaki...
...from a very closed community to a more interesting, open one...
...where everybody can give their opinions.
So we started a project called "Ishinomaki 2.0."
Matsumura Gota Fuko Bar, Ishinomaki 2.0
As a part of the project...
...we opened this bar as a fun place to gather.
There wasn't anywhere to get together at night after the disaster.
This building was flooded with water reaching just 5 cm below the ceiling.
The building had been empty.
There were a lot of empty buildings around...
...due to the sluggish economy in Ishinomaki.
We negotiated to rent this space at a good price...
...and turned it into a bar.
The whole process was DIY.
None of us were professional carpenters.
We were all amateurs...
...but we painted the walls and made interesting designs...
...and created a space where we could enjoy ourselves...
...and think about our recovery plans for the future.
BABY IN CAR
[SIREN WAILING]
April 2011
[MAN SPEAKING IN JAPANESE OVER PA]
[PEOPLE SHOUTING IN JAPANESE]
MATSUMURA: After the disaster, we didn't have any telephones...
...no Internet access, no electricity, no Twitter.
To get by we actually had to talk to the people around us.
November 2011
People in Ishinomaki had never communicated much...
...but now they had to to survive.
When walking through the town in April...
...everyone was greeting each other and it was such a great environment.
A massive amount of money has been donated...
...but we haven't seen any of it.
FUJITA: The Japanese government is preoccupied...
...with the critical situation of the nuclear accident in Fukushima.
This accident could end up on the same scale...
...as the Chernobyl catastrophe...
...or even worse.
Under these circumstances...
...support for the survivors of the tsunami...
...in Eastern Japan...
...has gradually disappeared.
Listening to broadcasts from the Diet...
...I never hear the Japanese government talk about how to help survivors.
Taking all these factors into account...
...I think it's going to be extremely difficult...
...for Ishinomaki and Tohoku itself to recover.
In a sense...
...to the government...
...we survivors are just baggage.
Koganehama Hall is a great house...
...not just for the residents of Koganehama district...
...but also anybody in trouble.
What we do as local volunteers is...
...run a soup kitchen, distribute goods...
...offer counseling for people with problems...
...rubble removal, house cleaning...
...and educational support...
...for the local kindergarten and so on.
We're doing a lot of different things.
I'm just an ordinary person...
...so all I try to do is wake up each morning with courage and hope.
So how can I do that?
I can do that because I have so many friends around me.
Before the disaster, we let other people manage the town...
...and let other people make political decisions.
I was living under their system.
But now, I and other people are shaping our own place to live.
Many people around here get together and hold workshops proactively...
...inviting professors with helpful knowledge.
By rebuilding this way...
...it makes a huge difference from leaving the system up to other people.
In knowing the structure of our own town, life becomes more comfortable...
...and it is an easier place to live in.