February 4, 2018


Research Center for Community Building Opens

Keywords: Disaster Reconstruction Education 

Copyright 2018 The Fukushima Hirono Future Creation Research Center All Rights Reseved. 

Tohoku Fukko Nikki (Tohoku Reconstruction Diary), a weekly feature in the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper, delivers news stories in reconstruction efforts in communities devastated by the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011. The articles are written by the JKSK Yui-Yui Project, an initiative to support survivors of the 2011 disaster. This time, we present an article published on June 20, 2017, describing reconstruction efforts that spread owing to the establishment of the research center.

The opening ceremony of The Fukushima Hirono Future Creation Research Center, a research institute engaged in the reconstruction of Fukushima, was held on May 15 in Hirono Town of Fukushima prefecture. The research center was established by the Waseda University Environmental Research Institute with the cooperation of the town, and is headed by Professor Shunji Matsuoka of Waseda University Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies.

The relationship between the university and Hamadori, a coastal region where Hirono is situated, began in December 2011 during JKSK's 2nd Exchange Gathering held in Iwaki city. Iwaki is also the place where Masahito Nemoto, Director of the Hirono Wai-Wai Project, first met with Professor Matsuoka at a meeting facility of a temporary housing complex in the city. This was back in February 2012 at a seminar on building solar panels (hosted by Iwaki Otento SUN Enterprise Cooperative).

I joined the Hirono Wai-Wai Project in the spring of 2015 and am responsible for the secretariat for accepting volunteer buses and other activities. We continue to keep in touch with Professor Matsuoka and his colleagues. For example, I was invited to the symposium in Tohoku reconstruction in Waseda University held every year in March. Professor Matsuoka participated in the 8th Exchange Gathering in July 2015 held in Hirono Town.

At the opening ceremony of the research center, nearly 100 people gathered, including senior high school students from Futaba Future High School in Fukushima Prefecture, which prepares students to support the reconstruction efforts, Waseda University students, Hirono Town residents and staff from the prefectural office, the Minister for Reconstruction and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Because the town is the foremost location for decommissioning of the nuclear power plant, the "Innovation Coast Scheme" is underway in Hamadori aiming to rebuild the industrial base by utilizing and developing technology related to decommissioning.

We began to feel strongly about preserving Hirono's primary industries, landscape and festivals. We should restore liveliness and bring back jobs to our community by organizing events such as the Hirono Park Festival, developing products and promoting exchange among volunteers in cotton fields and disaster prevention green zones. The research center hopes to keep communicating with local junior and high school students, residents and researchers to investigate local resources, and to think and work together in building a sustainable community.

NPO Hirono Wai-Wai Project
Yoshihiko Isobe, Secretary General