ISHINOMAKI, MIYAGI PREF. – A group in northeastern Japan is soliciting donations of cars to help people who lost their vehicles in disasters as it is preparing to provide support in areas hit by Typhoon Hagibis.
The group, the Japan Car Sharing Association, based in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, is facing shortages of vehicles it lends to disaster victims following a series of big natural disasters in recent years.
“If you have cars you’re not using, please donate them to us,” an official of the group said.
The group was founded in 2011 as an organization to lend vehicles to people struggling to secure means of transportation after their vehicles were damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
That disaster was followed by the heavy rain that hit the northern part of Kyushu in July 2017 and the torrential rain, mainly in western Japan, during the summer of 2018.
The group has provided around 45 of its 135 vehicles, such as cars and minitrucks, for use in areas ravaged by heavy rain in Saga Prefecture and typhoons in Chiba Prefecture.
Some of the remaining vehicles are used by organizations supporting people in areas hit by the March 2011 tsunami disaster and the 2018 heavy rain in western Japan, according to the Ishinomaki group.
The rest are utilized in the group’s car rental operations, an important source of revenue to support its assistance activities.
But the situation surrounding the group deteriorated because of Typhoon Hagibis.
Four vehicles kept in Ishinomaki were damaged due to flooding.
For victims affected by the typhoon, the group aims to provide some 100 vehicles, a similar scale of aid offered at the time of the 2018 heavy rain in western Japan.
“I didn’t imagine that so many natural disasters would hit so many areas in the country,” said Kenta Ishiwatari, a 29-year-old staff member of the group. “We want to procure enough cars by seeking support through social media and cooperating with the Miyagi Prefectural Government,” he added.