In response to the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunamis which devastated parts of northern Japan on March 11, the Soka Gakkai central emergency communications center at the Soka Gakkai Headquarters in Tokyo is coordinating closely with local emergency centers set up by Soka Gakkai in the prefectures concerned to gather information, contact those in affected areas and initiate relief efforts.
Soka Gakkai members continue to visit accessible areas to check on people's whereabouts and well-being, offering support and helping those in need of shelter find accommodation.
Soka Gakkai community centers throughout the affected region have been opened to provide accommodation and food for the public, including seven in the worst-hit Miyagi prefecture where Sendai city is located.
The Soka Gakkai Tohoku Culture Center in Sendai is now the regional emergency coordination center for the organization's relief efforts. Around 600 people spent the night there on March 11 and from 6:30am on the following morning, breakfast prepared by volunteers who worked through the night was served. Snacks and donuts were provided for children.
The center has a large parking lot that has been made available to local fire stations. Twenty fire trucks are now parked there and continue to engage in fighting the fires which are still breaking out.
The Soka Gakkai Headquarters, as well as Soka Gakkai members in Yamagata prefecture and the Shinetsu and Kansai areas, have sent trucks containing relief supplies such as water, blankets, food, stove burners and portable toilets.
Youth members in Yamagata prefecture on the northwestern coast, which experienced relatively little damage, collected food and beverages including bananas, sausages and tea, as well as nutritional supplements and medicine, and drove trucks carrying these supplies to Sendai, arriving at the Tohoku Culture Center at around 2am on March 12, after driving for over four hours.
Mr. Akihiko Morishima, regional leader of Soka Gakkai in Miyagi prefecture, commented, "We are so grateful for the encouragement and support we are receiving from throughout Japan and around the world. Now we are working hard to rescue the survivors. Here we pride ourselves on our 'indomitable spirit,' so no matter what the circumstances, we will not be defeated. We are putting all our energy into transforming this terrible situation."
On March 13, a message to all those affected by the earthquake from SGI President Daisaku Ikeda was published in the Soka Gakkai's organ newspaper, theSeikyo Shimbun:
I offer this expression of heartfelt sympathy and support to all those whose lives have been impacted by the massive earthquake that struck northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011. My wife Kaneko and I are sending powerful daimoku to you, my precious, treasured friends, for you to be able to experience the clear and certain protection of the Buddha and the Buddhist deities. As Nichiren Daishonin declares, "Myo means to revive, that is, to return to life." (WND vol.1, p.149) Now is the time to muster the indomitable power of faith and practice, in order to bring forth and make manifest the boundless power of the Buddha and the Law as we together strive to transform this great suffering and trial. Again, I offer my deepest sympathy to all who have been afflicted.
[Adapted from an article in the March 13, 2011, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of Seikyo Shimbun]