On the anniversary of the greatest natural disaster in Japan’s modern history, Dame Pauline Green, president of the International Co-operative Alliance, paid tribute to the stoicism and resilience of the Japanese people in the face of the earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the country's north-east a year ago.
“On the occasion of one year passing since Japan’s earthquake, in this, the International Year of Co-operatives, I ask co-operative businesses toremember those co-operators who lost their lives, their livelihoods and their possessions in the disaster,” said Dame Pauline. “The solidarity demonstrated by our co-operative movement following the devastating earthquake shows how well our model of business does the job of rebuilding, fundraising and co-ordinating a large scale relief effort.”
Dame Pauline praised the recovery efforts of the co-operative sector which has seen immediate relief work such as the provision of food, clothing and shelter, followed by more permanent solutions including entire villages re-housed on higher ground, training programs to help those who lost livelihoods find alternative work and new co-operative ventures sparked.
The International Co-operative Alliance raised funds for Japan’s co-operatives in response to the crisis. Dame Pauline said one of the tremendously positive aspects of the global co-operative movement was that in times of need people from around the globe came together to assist their fellow co-operators.
“The co-operative movement does not have a global brand like Nike or Walmart, nor do we want one. We have something much greater — a huge network of locally-based, community-owned, autonomous, sovereign, independent businesses. What unites us is a common set of values and principles that underpin all our businesses and a unique democratic ownership model that puts people at its core. We seek to serve human need -not human greed.”
The magnitude 9 earthquake which shook Japan's Honshu island on March 11 last year resulted in the deaths of more than 20,000 people. The earthquake and the subsequent tsunami created a nuclear crisis.