During the Golden Week holidays from April 28 to May 8, a total of some 78,000 volunteers worked in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, which were devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, according to "disaster volunteer centers" set up by local governments in the prefectures.

On and after May 9, however, that number dropped sharply. On a peak day, there were some 11,000 volunteers, but by May 8 the number had plummeted to some 5,000.

Two months after the disasters, more and more helping hands are needed to remove debris, help evacuees move to temporary housing and give health, hygienic, psychiatric and other care to nearly 115,000 people still living in temporary shelters.