Tohoku, Kobe and other areas hit by past quakes quick to send aid to Kumamoto


Communities that have experienced strong earthquakes or floods in recent years, ranging from the Tohoku region to Niigata to Kobe, are taking quick action to support Kumamoto Prefecture and its surrounding areas hit by devastating temblors since Thursday night.

The communities want to lend a helping hand not only with supplies but also know-how based on their own quake experiences.

Sendai, which was hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, on Saturday night sent trucks loaded with rice, disposable diapers and other vital supplies to the city of Kumamoto. It also dispatched two officials.

“After the quake, we received help from Kumamoto. I hope we can repay them for their kindness,” said Satoru Hirabuki, a 36-year-old official in charge of Sendai’s crisis management.

Japanese Red Cross Ishinomaki Hospital in Miyagi Prefecture acted on its own to send a team of 15 doctors and nurses to the city of Kumamoto on Saturday, based on its experience of supporting disaster-hit areas in the 2011 earthquake.

“Local medical experts are also victims of the quakes. But we have to race against time, and we want to support them from an early stage,” one of the Ishinomaki doctors said.

The city of Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture, which was hit by the Niigata Chuetsu Earthquake in 2004, sent a team of six officials Saturday to help prefectural governments in Kyushu. The team will instruct officials how to send out information to residents to lessen their worries and advise the prefectural governments about managing evacuation shelters.

The team brought along four cardboard cubicles in which women to change clothes and breast-feed babies.

“I’m happy if the rooms improve the environment at the evacuation shelters,” said Machio Adashi, president of the company that produced the cubicles.

About 20 students from Kobe Gakuin University solicited donations on Kobe streets Sunday.

“We received support from across the country at the time of the Great Hanshin Earthquake (in 1995), some of which must have come from people in Kumamoto. This time, it is our turn to take action,” said Shota Ishibashi, 20, a third-year student at Kobe Gakuin University.

The Union of Kansai Governments, which consists of seven prefectures in the Kansai region, sent 20 officials to set up a support office at the Kumamoto Prefectural Government. The union will send portable toilets and blankets that have been stored by its member prefectures.

Joso, Ibaraki Prefecture, which suffered heavy rain and floods last September, on Friday sent 1,500 2-liter plastic bottles of water and 2,000 water bags to the city of Kumamoto and 600 bottles of water to Mashiki, Kumamoto Prefecture, where the first quake hit on Thursday night.

Kumamoto quake info: where to go, how to help