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MIGHTY HARAJUKU column「Visiting the victimized areas #1」 #m_harajuku

  • 2011.06.08 Wednesday
  • 05:40

MIGHTY HARAJUKU special column

"Visiting the victimized areas"

Every day, there are news reports on the victimized areas of the earthquake/tsunami disaster.
I believe that with the help of everyone,  we, in Harajuku, are facing this unprecedented disaster in a way only we can.
However, after 2 months passed from the initial quakes, I began rethinking what we can do from Harajuku; we are so far from the victimized areas.

That made me think that not only as someone who started the MIGHTY HARAJUKU PROJECT, but as one Japanese person, I began to think that it was necessary for me to know the truth about what was going on in my own country. This made me not able to stay still.

1) "I'm going to the victimized areas."

The weekend of May 14/15th. I traveled  300km away from Tokyo to Minamisanriku-cho, one of the most affected areas of the Northeastern-Japan earthquake/tsunami disaster.

"I'm going to the victimized areas."
The first time I said this to my staff was actually March 12th, right after the disaster had occurred.

I wanted to see, and verify what had happened to Japan with my own eyes, and not through the TV screen. I also thought that it was my job to see what was happening, and to inform people of the reality.However, I started to calm down as I continued to speak to my staff; I noticed that this urge was very egotistical of me.

If I went now, I have nothing to offer.If I did go, I would just be wandering in the rubble, and I might ask for help from others, and just cause more trouble in the end.It was saddening, but that was the truth.

Then, isn't there anything I can do from where I am?

I thought and thought and thought.
The result was "MIGHTY HARAJUKU PROJECT"; where I could share the rebuilding and development of Harajuku after the disaster.

MIGHTY HARAJUKU PROJECT began to spread worldwide, and got attention from several media outlets. During the tour we did in America (West-coast), we were able to collect donations, and a lot of people were cheering Japan on.

As I was away from Japan for 2 weeks, I was able to reflect on what position I was placed, and the reality of Japan in a more calm manner.

The last city I visited during the tour was New York.I actually visited Ground Zero at the end of the year when the 9.11 Terrorist attacks occurred.
The gouged out remains of the World Trade Center, and the bare subway station.I did not expect a bigger disaster to happen in Japan.

 "I really do need to make sure about the reality of my own country with my own eyes."

Previously, when I held an event called "Kawaii will save the world!", I visited Cambodia.
This was because I decided to donate 20 yen out of the 500yen entrance fee for vaccinations for children all over the world.
It might be only 20yen, but if I am receiving this money from the customers of the event, I could not feel comfortable unless I made sure that the money was being used for vaccinations. It was a simple reason like that.

However, it is highly difficult for us, the general public, to observe facilities of Non-Profit Organizations.
I started becoming worked up, so I took a video camera to Cambodia, and negotiated with the local people to see the facilities.
 Miraculously, I was able to find the storehouse that kept all the vaccinations purchased by the donations.
"These are the vaccinations being purchased with your money!"I showed the video that I had just shot at the event, and held the vaccination in my hand and shared the experience with the audience.

As a result of this, half an year later, I was invited to a tour of inspection aboard; this was recognized officially by the government of Myanmar.
I went to Myanmar right after the cyclone disaster. This time, I actually took the vaccinations from the storehouse to the various places that were doing the vaccinations, and was allowed to medicate the children myself.

And now, the north-eastern Japanese disaster.

As someone who started a charity group, a lot of people have cooperated with me, collected donations with me, and proved the power of Japanese culture. Yet, why was I still not able to see the state of the affected area?On top of that, this is happening in my own country.

This made no sense to me.

"I'm going to the victimized areas."

I said this to my staff in the same manner as I did right after the disaster.This time, I had found out that the transportation system to the victimized areas had been recovered.

After a silence, my staff told me
"Let's go"
"If anything, we have to go."

May 12th, exactly 2 months after my first "I'm going to the victimized areas."
I decided to go to the victimized areas.