Working together helps rebuild lives and farms

Following the Great East Japan Earthquake & Tsunami, JA Group summoned up its full organizational capabilities to help people in the afflicted areas rebuild their livelihoods, to restore/recover...

Following the Great East Japan Earthquake & Tsunami, JA Group summoned up its full organizational capabilities to help people in the afflicted areas rebuild their livelihoods, to restore/recover agricultural infrastructure, and to get JAs' operating bases back into business as soon as possible. In addition to fundraising efforts among JA members, officials and employees that yielded 11.6 billion yen (154 million USD) in donations and contributions, which includes funds from friends of co-operative abroad, we have provided relief supplies of food and daily necessities on a nationwide scale and pursued other assistance efforts in a spirit of cooperation.

In the wake of the earthquake and tsunami, the disaster stricken areas were in immediate need of food, daily necessities and other everyday commodities to tide people over.

In the JA Group, as co-operative organizations to maintain the livelihoods of communities, JAs in afflicted area began immediately after the disaster cooking and providing meals while JAs nationwide and their federations arranged for free supplies of food and everyday goods. JA Group organizations in all prefectures participated in these efforts, providing polished rice, retort-pouched meals, water, tea, juice as well as undergarments, blankets, diapers, towels, soap, cotton gloves, portable toilets and a host of other relief supplies. The Emergency Central Headquarters for the Great East Japan Earthquake & Tsunami Disaster also delivered "Pearl Rice" and A-COOP products.

In parallel with these efforts, JA members, officials and employees nationwide joined together in the JA Group Recovery Assistance Fundraising Drive that lasted from March 14 to April 28, with each JA placing a collection box at its respective location. The National Council of Agricultural co-operative Youth Associations and the National Council of Agricultural co-operative Women's AssoCiations, too, called on the help of prefectural organizations throughout the country. Encouragement from cooperative colleagues and the goodwill of the Seikatsu Club Consumers' Co-operative Union and overseas cooperative friends help raise a nationwide total of 1.5 billion yen (20 million USD).

A JA Group Recovery & Reconstruction Donation Fund was created apart from the relief money raised. The purpose of this Fund was to aid the quick recovery of JA infrastructure that constitutes a foundation for the livelihoods of agricultural producers and local residents. A total of 10.1 billion yen (135 million USD) was collected from JAs nationwide, prefectural federations and national organizations and co-operative friends abroad. The allocation of these donations was approved on June 9, and the funding presented to Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Chiba and Tochigi prefectures. This money has been utilized to rebuild damaged JAs and prefectural unions and federations. and to restore and recover agricultural infrastructure in the areas affected by the disaster.

National federations in the JA Group have reinforced their support system to help rebuild the livelihoods of disaster victims and restore/recover Agricultural Infrastructure. JA-Zen-Noh (National Federation of Agricultural co-operative associations) has continued its efforts to meet the needs of disaster-stricken areas, quickly providing rice, plastic-bottled beverages, and other foods and supplies and, because of the extensive damage suffered by feed plants in other regions and emergency imports of kerosene tram South Korea. To combat the adverse effects of the Tokyo Electric Power Company's nuclear power plant accident, projects were also launched in Tokyo and elsewhere to support sales of agricultural produce from Fukushima Prefecture and other afflicted production areas.

Shortly after the disaster, JA-Kyousairen (National Mutual Insurance Federation of Agricultural co-operative) established the disaster countermeasures headquarters at the national head office and gave top priority to helping out policyholders and local users by (1) rapidly surveying the damage and paying mutual insurance claims and (2) providing special disaster assistance to policyholders and JA users. A total of 2,450 assessors, consisting not only of personnel of JAs and federations in the afflicted prefectures but also personnel from federations in other prefectures, were dispatched to the afflicted areas to conduct damage surveys and make all-out efforts to pay mutual insurance claims. As the result, building endowment insurance and comprehensive life insurance payments in excess of 707.7 billion yen (9.4 billion USD) have been made in more than 470,000 cases as of October 4, 2011. A JA Mutual Insurance Inquiry Center for Evacuee Policyholders was set up for policyholders who have sought refuge outside their home prefectures.

The Norinchukin Bank provided expedient refunds of savings and emergency bridge loans as emergency measures to assist JA members and users in the disaster-hit areas. To support the recovery of the agricultural, forestry and fishery industries, a "Recovery Support Program," expected to last about four years to provide assistance funding of 30 billion yen (0.4 billion USD) for 1 trillion yen (13.3 billion USD) of business scale, has been established to provide loans to producers in the agricultural, forestry and fishery industries and to help JAs and fisheries and forest-owners co-operative revive their businesses.

JA-Zenkouren (National Health & Welare Federation of Agricultural co-operative) set up a National Disaster Countermeasures Headquarters, assessed the damage to prefectural federations' offices M by the disaster, and compiled demands for assistance. Prefectural federations and affiliated hospitals deployed disaster medical assistance teams and medical relief squads totalling 3,000 personnel who offered treatment, nursing and other healthcare services to disaster victims.

The Japan Agricultural News provided free copies of newspapers to evacuation centers, and a JA Group disaster relief Twitter feed was created. The Ie-no-Hikari Association sent disposable diapers to the afflicted areas and offered copies of 'Ie no Hikeri ," 'Chijo" and "Chagurin." The Nokyo Tourist Corporation operated free bus transportation in the afflicted areas, supported sales of agricultural and livestock products, and hosted meetings in afflicted areas.

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