H3: How Can You Help Deaf Japanese People Affected By Quake?

H3: How Can You Help Deaf Japanese People Affected By Quake?

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English article


National university for the Deaf starts teacher training program in April

March 4, 2011

At the Tsukuba University of Tchnology (Tsukuba City, Ibaraki Prefecture) that offers Deaf and blind students a four-year technical program respectively, the new students admitted in April 2011 will be able to take the teacher training program which leads to the acquisition of the teacher's license at the junior high school and the high school level.

According the university, since Tsukuba College of Technology was first established in 1987, there had been a strong demand from the students and their parents that a teacher training program be set up so that the student might be able to get a teaching license.

The working group was set up in the university to study the system for three years after the college was shifted to a 4-year university in 2005. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, approved the university to open the teacher training program for the Deaf and blind students each in July, 2010.

Japanese source:

National HoH organization visits member groups in the earthquake stricken area


The relief HQ of the national League of the organizations of the hearing of hearing and deafened will take the site investigation of the support action for hearing of hearing and deafened members in part of the stricken area (Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures) during the weekend, April 1-3.

President Takaoka, secretary-general Sano, and board member Ogawa and others will travel on Sano's van.

Japanese source:

JFD: Report meeting related to Deaf relief at headquarters

JFD Tokyo Office Director Hisamatsu reports on his visits to the stricken area in northeastern Japan and Kanto region.
Relief goods project leader reports on his activity.
HQ meeting related to the Deaf relief activities
The medial team discusses the future action and policy.
(photos: http://www.jfd.or.jp/tohoku-eq2011/p003)


The Japanese Federation of the Deaf's Northeastern Japan Deaf victims relief headquarters held a meeting to report on the local situation of the Deaf community in the stricken area on March 29, Tuesday, 19:00-22:00 in the conference room of The Nippon Foundation in Tokyo.
There was a report from the General Secretary Hisamatsu on his visit to Tohoku and Kanto regions including five prefectures, and from the relief goods staff respectively.
Iwate prefecture:

- It was not possible to go to the coast area and find the missing Deaf residents because there was no answer even by the fax, and neither transportation nor gasoline was not available.

- A lot of Deaf senior citizens lived in the area, and after the earthquake, many of them took shelter to their children or relative.

- JFD staff discussed with the Deaf association, the information center of the Deaf, and they would investigate separately for four districts after March 27.

- There is a possibility that the Iwate relief headquarters be set up in the information center of the Deaf.

- The association went to the Prefecture government, explained the situation of the Deaf residents, and requested cooperation.

Miyagi prefecture:

- The Miyagi relief headquarters was set up, and they are looking for whereabouts of the Deaf residents and visiting the refuge in different places.

- As there is no available space to put relief goods that have been sent, the HQ is trying to find out any facility of other disability organization to rent.

- There should be a rule to send the relief goods to prevent HQ in the stricken area from a heavy workload to sort out: only the same kind of things in one box.

- The interpreting service is requested, which should be responded immediately.

Fukushima prefecture:

- The Association office is steady, and they also advance the search for the missing Deaf residents.

- However, it is difficult to find whereabouts of the Deaf residents who take shelter for the radiation leak by the nuclear accident: they are moved from the refuge to another, or move out of the prefecture for safety.

- Only information becomes reliance because we cannot see the radiation leak, and it is more difficult for the Deaf residents who are not accessible to the vital information.

- The HQ is confronted by the situation that forces them think of moving the office function to other place if radiation poisoning comes to reach Fukushima City or Koriyama City by any chance.

In general:

- The Deaf victim suffers mentally from the struck experience, and the situation and the degree are also various to the person.

- Not only the support of goods, but also the psychological care for the Deaf victim is urgently needed.

- The cooperation of the prefecture and the municipality administration is necessary for the support of the Deaf community.

- The rule for the volunteer support and the relief goods sorted should be made, and be known to the people concerned immediately.

- A request from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare on meeting the needs of the Deaf victims seems to fail each refuge. It is necessary to distribute material, etc. to every refuge in order to meet their needs, .

Besides, the dispatch to the rescue Miyagi headquarters and Ishinomaki City is scheduled to report on the situation of the dispatch of the sign language interpreter, and to start on March 30. The request comes from Natori City and Watari City, and the interpreter dispatch request will increase in the future.
The report of the locale was received respectively, each section like interpreters, medical treatment (mental caring) group, and support goods groups, etc. , had a sub-meeting on the future activities and policy, etc.

Vlog: Deaf Japanese experiences earthquake


Deaf Japan News Vlog 3: Deaf Japanese experience an earthquake (4:52)


A Deaf Japanese woman relates her experience with the earthquake in Tokyo.

Language: ASL/International sign

Support for Japanese Individuals with Disabilities Affected by Earthquake

To support persons with disabilities affected by the Tohoku-Kanto Great Earthquake on March 11, 2011, DPI-Japan, JIL, Yumekaze Foundation and other Japanese disability organizations established the Relief Headquarters for Persons with Disabilities of Tohoku-Kanto Great Earthquake.

They have now opened a blog site in English.

There is a link on this website for people to provide support: http://dpi.cocolog-nifty.com/en

You can find more information on the website in MS Word and PDF format. You will also find a message from Shoji Nakanishi, the Director.

Source: Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons (NVRC)

JFD: Report on the relief supply project

The relief goods were brought by the JFD staff in Miyagi Prefecture hit by the earthquake.
(photos: http://www.jfd.or.jp/tohoku-eq2011/relief002)

The relief team of three members were dispatched by the Japanese Federation of the Deaf relief project headquarters in Tokyo gave a progress report.

2011/03/26, Saturday
We safely arrived in the evening from Tokyo at the Miyagi Prefecture welfare center for persons with disabilities in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, and were welcomed by about 15 local Deaf members and volunteers.

And then the relief supply and the van were handed to the Miyagi Prefecture Association of the Deaf.

The following was what was reported in the meeting with the Association.

- More damage done in the coast area than the inland in the prefecture.
- In the coast area, a lot of Deaf people and interpreters lost their house and car.
- The stove, etc. are used to boil the water because there is no gas yet though the electricity just started yesterday.
- There is a rescue requested in the processing of the collapsing house.
- A base for the interpreter activity has not been made yet in each city on the coast.

- Relief supplies which the association asks for were as follows.
・Bicycles: People who used the car commuting have lost it by the tsunami. A bicycle may help them move around.
・Shoes: especially for the children.

- Though there is information on facilities in each prefecture in the stricken area, any facility for persons with disabilities is unknown.
- The briefing concerning the transfer outside the district school has started, but it is not certain whether interpreting nor note-taking is offered.
2011/03/27, Sunday
The distribution of the relief goods in the refuge in a far region was scheduled for this day. The gasoline of the van was less than the half, so we looked for the gas station in the morning.

A few gas station for a general refueling already closed temporarily due to lack of gasoline. However, there is another gas station for the emergency vehicle. We had the Miyagi Prefecture emergency vehicle permit, and it took us about 50 minutes queuing up to the stand to refuel.

Because a line of cars stretching for 2km to the gas station for a general vehicle, Deaf residents must not have been able to refuel easily.

We arrived at the Association Office at 10:30. The relief goods from the Meisei Gakuen School for the Deaf also came, and everyone sorted all the goods in outside until evening due to the manpower shortage. So the goods were not distributed to the members who need some.

The sort work of the relief goods was hard because there were a lot of boxes with various things in. It is necessary to put the same kind of things in one box so that the work load of the stricken area headquarters should be less.

Meanwhile we interviewed several members who provided vital information as follows;

- Immediately after the earthquake occurred, all blacked out, and all lifelines such as gas, etc. stopped.

- Neither the television, the fax nor the cellular phone were connected for about one week until the lights were on, so the Deaf residents did not know when the tsunami approached the coast soon.

- The gas check has started, and it will be possible to use it at home for cooking and bathing, etc. on around April 1 at the earliest.

- The Deaf victims were able to take a hot bath after a long time. They were unable to take a bath for two weeks, cleaning the body, etc. with the towel wrung with the hot water.

- The debris of the destroyed houses, etc. are possibly used as a fuel. If you find a pan, etc. somewhere, you can use it to boil the water.

- Because the houses or the buildings with the seismic design don't have any material as a fuel, so a propane gas cylinder or fixed fuel will be needed.

Lastly we attended the meeting with the Association at 18:00. They gave us a report on their activities and made a request for needy goods. Both the parties confirmed that the van was donated to them to support their relief activities.

2011/03/28, Monday
The earthquake with a strong shake happened at 7:24 in the morning. We exchanged greetings with the Association officials and volunteers before we got on the express bus for Shinjuku in Tokyo and departed at 9:30. The bus is reserved only for those who involve in disaster relief activities.

Related link:

Baseball player to sign a message to disaster victims for revival

Ramirez (right) practices dashing with his teammate Abe in the indoor training field.
(photo: http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/giants/news/20110327-OHT1T00184.htm)


The charity matching game between the Giants and the Dragons will be held at Nagoya in honor of the victims of the northeastern Japan great earthquake on March 27 and April 2-3.

The Giants outfielder Alex Ramirez (36) plans to send a message in sign language when he hits the home run.

He said, "I think that holding the charity game is a very good attempt. I am glad to participate because I believe this would help the disaster victims".

Ramirez decided he would send the message in front of the camera signing "We are one. Cheer up Nippon!" after his home run aiming at the fan and people in the stricken area.

It was his wife who suggested that he would sign a message after the home run. She saw the news report of strikingly sorrowful victims on the television with interpreting in the small frame on the left of the TV screen.

When coming to Japan from Venezuela, Ramirez was helped by a lot of Japanese, overcoming difficulties. He has shown how much he is grateful that cannot be forgotten through baseball.

He also has already contributed the relief and condolence money of one million dollars (about 80 million yen) to the stricken area through the "Tokyo Baptist Church". Moreover, the medicine and the medical supply were sent through a doctor who is one of his acquaintances.

"Sign language news program" on the disaster starts by live broadcasting

Live broadcasting in JSL in the studio.
(photo: http://getnews.jp/archives/105793)


The signed news program started by the 'Smile Video' provided by the 'Smile Broadcast' service that is able to broadcast" by the use of the syuwa.JPG Internet.

This is conducted with 'Smile Video' users who volunteer to translate latest information concerning the northeastern Japan great earthquake into JSL.

The first broadcasting was carried out only for 10 minutes by the new staff members including the interpreters. The quality of the program has improved gradually after repeating the trial and error while keeping broadcasting, too.

The comments from Deaf viewers; "I am glad to enjoy the signed broadcasting real-time", "I get the atmosphere of the press conference very well, and feel strained, too. It is wonderful to see how you interpret simultaneously".

The signed news program will continue until March 24, 2011.

Deaf society asks for help in getting emergent information in Shizuoka Prefecture


It has been understood that as the emergency information by the wireless speaker did not reach the deaf residents when Tohoku-Kanto Great Earthquake occurred and later the 6.0 magnitude earthquake hit the east part of Shizuoka Prefecture, they are worried about being unaware of the unusual situation and the shelter, etc.

Also a lot of the Deaf residents appeal for uneasiness to the paucity of information related to the rolling blackout schedule in the east part of Shizuoka Prefecture since March 14 after the great earthquake. The Shizuoka Prefecture Society of the Deaf is requesting to meet the needs of the Deaf community in the emergency.

The society staff said that the Deaf residents depend on a news flash of the television above all in the emergency though the tool to gather information by Deaf people extended by the spread of the cellular phone and the Internet. However, the TV news with caption alone is not enough for them to grip facts and figures.

A Deaf man Seiichi Suzuki (33) said about the the rolling blackout. "I did not know there was the broadcast wireless that tells the electric blackout. Neither I could know what time and the location where I live will blacked out from the TV news".

Kentaro Kokura (27) who sits on the board of the society appeals, "Because the TV news without sign language and the caption either gives few information immediately, the Deaf people become very anxious".

The information is also not accessible outside like the station and the refuge, etc. it is more difficult. For example, the blog of a Deaf victim in the Tohoku region struck by the earthquake states, "I could do nothing but follow other people going whereabouts at the station," "I am not sure what and how much I can get by standing in the line to get foods", etc.

The Deaf groups in the prefecture hold the disaster prevention workshop, learning urgently necessary communications to request such as writing. Kokura calls, "We want people to lend their help when the Deaf person is around as he/she will understand the situation only from writing at once".

JFD relief team departs for Miyagi to deliver goods

(photos: http://www.jfd.or.jp/tohoku-eq2011/relief001)


The Japanese Federation of the Deaf Great Earthquake Relief Headquarters called the Kanto block to contribute goods upon the request of the Miyagi Regional Deaf headquarters.

The team put the relief supplies (69 cardboard boxes in total) that were gathered on the van offered by The Nippon Foundation, and left on March 26 for Miyagi Prefecture.

Three delivery staff will stay in Miyagi until Monday, March 28, and to survey the locale aiming at JFD's actual relief support to the Miyagi headquarters in the future.

Deaf clinical psychologist reports on her experience with earthquake


A Deaf clinical psychologist reported on her experience with the earthquake in Miyagi Prefecture, which is translated into English on her blog.


Japan tsunami - before and after pictures

These GeoEye satellite photographs give an idea of the destruction in the wake of the tsunami along Japan's coastline. Drag the dark vertical bar ...

Two weeks after the Tohoku Kanto Great Earthquake


On March 25 two weeks has passed since the Tohoku Kanto Great Earthquake, the worst natural disaster in Japan.

According to the National Police Agency as of noon, the dead were 10,035 people, and 17,443 people are missing, and 27,478 people in total.

About 240,000 survivors are still going through difficulties in the refuge at about 2000 places.

The rescue workers have continued collecting the body remains. The burials of the unidentified person's remains has started in the stricken area, too.

On the other hand, the lifeline such as electricity and telecommunications lines is gradually restored, and the post office and the bank restarted business in some of the stricken area.


Sign language volunteer anxious to work for the Deaf survivors


Q. I am doing the sign language volunteer. I worry about whether the Deaf are isolated in the refuge.

A. Spoken or audio information is obtained at a disaster time which is not accessible to the Deaf and there is a difficulty for them.

Actually vital information failed to reach the Deaf in the refuge after the Great Hanshin Earthquake struck the Kobe area in 1995; they were unable to get the blanket and the rice ball according to the Osaka Society of the Deaf.

There must be a lot of information on a tsunami, distributed goods, the situation of the nuclear plant crisis, etc. that the Deaf need to know soon this time, too.

The statistics of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (As of March, 2009) on the number of Deaf carriers with the disability card, there are about 5,100 in Iwate Prefecture, about 6,100 in Miyagi Prefecture, and about 7,700 in Fukushima Prefecture.

The Japanese Federation of the Deaf has been offered help from many people, "I want to help them". The JFD officials commented, "when the action base is established once somewhere in the locale, we will recruit the sign language volunteers".

Volunteers take an active part in the refuge in Yamagata Prefecture

March 19, 2011

The volunteers are taking an active part in the refuge set up at various places in Yamagata Prefecture, adjacent to Miyagi Prefecture, on March 18, a week after the devastating disaster hit the prefectures in Northeastern Japan.

Survivors come one after another from Fukushima and Miyagi Prefectures on this day. There are 3,806 people in total in the refuge at 57 places as of the evening of the day according to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper.

The local residents and students gather to make the boiled rice and distribute the support goods, etc. in the refuge where inconvenient life is forced. Also the evacuees voluntarily move to help the distribution of meal, etc.

Support to the Deaf victims started, too. In the Sports Center in Yamagata City, three Dear men from Fukushima Prefecture are taking shelter. They are provided interpreting by volunteers.

One of them aged 64 from Soma City in Fukushima Prefecture arrived at the center with his relative on March 17. He didn't understand what has happened even if he saw people are taking shelter around home, and became worried.

At the center he has been helped by the interpreters since March 18. He said, "I am really worried about the future. I need their help to know what is going around".

*The member organizations in Northeaster Japan have reported to the Japanese Federation of the Deaf on whereabouts of their local members as well as non-members.

Interpreting service via Internet starts for the Deaf disaster survivors


A lot of people are struck by the earthquake that occurred in the Tohoku region on March 11, and the difficulty at the evacuation life has deteriorated further.

Meanwhile, the service for the Deaf survivors who are JSL users was offered free of charge.

The incorporated nonprofit organization "ShuR" is providing the service to offer the remote sign language interpreting with the use of the Internet; Skype, MSN Messenger and Google Talk.

Once the Deaf persons starts the video conferencing telephone in the computer, iPhone, etc. , and tells a signed message to the interpreter on the display, who interprets it for their friend or relative.

Though it is inconvenient that the environment is not provided to connect with the Internet, nor the interpreter is not available at time zone, the service may be useful to the Deaf survivors.

Disaster information dissemination for the Deaf/hard of hearing at earthquake


Because people with visual and hearing disabilities are usually behind the information which is transmitted at time of the earthquake, they are worried that they would fail to shelter.

Specialists are calling, "It is necessary to notice the method of the information dissemination to the persons with disabilities in the refuge".

A surrounding person doesn't notice that the Deaf person is not able to get information easily. It is important to take communications in taking note when that the person does not react to a surrounding audio cues.

The Japanese Federation of the Deaf staff also is advising, "It is necessary to consider what method should be used at the refuge so that the persons with disabilities could come forward for help. For example signs such as 'Information Desk for the Persons with Disabilities', or 'Interpreter Request', etc. are displayed near the reception".

A Deaf person is placed near the place where the information is given, such as the office of the task force, the reception, etc. The audio information is always printed to be shown on the wall or a neighbor writes it down.

In the past, the Deaf residents were not aware of the disaster in spite of the information for disaster evacuation via the radio speaker.

The JFD staff says, "We want people to be aware of some persons nearby who are Deaf or hard of hearing and to support them in preparation for the aftershock, etc".

You Tube: EARTHQUAKE IN JAPAN (JSL/ASL/Japanese/English)



Deaf Japan is a group located in Osaka that offers various activities related to American Sign Language.

Message from Japanese Federation of the Deaf

March 18, 2011

To whom it may concern;

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to all of you for showing your kindly concerns and condolences in the extremely difficult time.

We continue gathering information about deaf people and support for them.

We are providing the information on our website. Please accept our apology for the information being currently only written in Japanese.

We will put information about donation on our website in English later.

We would deeply appreciate your patience and persistence.

We cordially ask you to refrain from contacting directly to the disaster-stricken area about donation and volunteer.

Thank you for understanding.

Japanese Federation of the Deaf (JFD)

Unveiling ceremony of hand print for graduation held in school for the Deaf in Yamagata Prefecture

A Deaf student Matsuura (right), and hearing students who produced her hand print in the school court.
(photo: http://www.shonai-nippo.co.jp/cgi/ad/day.cgi?p=2011:02:25)

February 25, 2011

The unveiling ceremony of "a hand print for a memento of graduation" that commemorated the graduation of a junior high school student was held in the Yamagata Prefecture Sakata School for the Deaf (18 pupils and students from kindergarten to junior high school) on February 23.

The mechanics students at an adjoining the Prefecture Sakata Industrial High School (514 students) produced the hand print.

The School for the Deaf has requested the hearing school to produce a hand print in the graduation commemoration since 1998. This year it was for MATSUURA Chika (15), a junior high student who is graduating this April.

The ceremony was held in the courtyard of the school for the Deaf. Four mechanics students who produced her hand-print attended it with the Deaf students and staff.

Matsuura gave a speech, "I am very glad to have my hand print made. I will visit here again when I grow up. Thank you very much". Lastly all the people present surrounded the hand print for a souvenir picture.

The school for the deaf will be changed as the Sakata Special Support School with a division for Deaf students and students with learning disability respectively in April, 2012.

Also the Sakata Industrial High School will be integrated with other three hearing high schools in Sakata City in April, 2013.

However, both the schools will continue this project in the future.

Japanese Deaf students at Gallaudet move forward for support

March 20, 2011

Currently about ten Japanese Deaf students are studying at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.

They recently took action to help the Deaf community affected by the horrible disaster and accident in the eastern prefectures facing the Pacific: the 9.0-magnitude earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear crisis.

They will make a presentation at the Gallaudet University Student Center on March 23 on the Deaf victims and help needed.

Here is the vlog in JSL/ASL on the disaster, etc.

Gallaudet University daily digest link:

Japanese Federation of the Deaf starts the earthquake rescue operation

A silent prayer is offered before the meeting.

Chairman and headquarters general manager Ishino gives a speech.
(photo: http://www.jfd.or.jp/tohoku-eq2011/p002)

To straighten the rescue system for the Deaf refuge affected by the Tohoku North Kanto coast earthquake, the Japanese Federation of the Deaf set up "East Japan great earthquake rescue Deaf center headquarters".

The headquarters, composed by JFD, the National Study Society for the Interpreter and the Japanese sign language interpreter society, held the first meeting in Tokyo on March 18.

Concerned officials from the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare attended it as an observer. Also 38 representatives in total from 12 cooperation groups were present.

They conferred on a systematic, concrete activity based on the clerical work summary and the report. Among the agenda, the following items were confirmed.

- Check the local community in the affected prefectures, and decide a concrete supporting method and local support base.

- Information necessary for local Deaf refuges is collected and posted in the JFD website.

- List up specialists on the mental caring of the Deaf refuges for their mental care and support, and make dispatch coordination plans, etc.

The National League of Associations of Hard of Hearing and Deafened also has took action to support the HoH/D in the disaster-affected prefectures.

Deaf scared of the bicycle without light during the rolling blackout

March 17, 2011

"Please turn on the light of your bicycle after the evening during the rolling blackout".

A Deaf resident in Chigasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture, where many people are the bicycle user, tweeted on the night of March 16.

She explained, "It is impossible to see the bicycle without the light approaching in the darkened town due to the power failure, which is scary".

"Especially, when the bicycle runs from behind, the Deaf will know it approaches from the light falling on ground".

Since March 14, the rolling blackout has been executed for three hours in the Kanto region including Tokyo due to the accident of the nuclear power plant in Furkushima Prefecture.

The Kanagawa Prefecture Cycling Society is calling, "When cycling in the pavement, you are requested to do it slowly and turn on the light without fail at nighttime".

Group of hearing students tweets the TV news for the Deaf community

TAJIMA Mina tweets summarizing the news of the earthquake at home in Aichi Prefecture.
(photo: http://www.chunichi.co.jp/article/aichi/20110315/CK2011031502000084.html)

March 15, 2011

The group of hearing students of Nihon Fukushi University (Japan Welfare University) in Mihama Cho in Aichi Prefecture tweet the TV news related to the eastern Japan great earthquake, etc. for the Deaf community across Japan.

They say, "We hope their anxiousness caused by the lack of information will be disappeared by our effort to provide caption through our tweets". The tweet account: and .

TAJIMA Mina (22) found a tweet on the the night of March 12, the next day after the great earthquake struck Japan. The Deaf woman in Tokyo tweeted: "I am worried because there is neither interpreting nor caption on the TV news related the devasting disaster at all".

Tajima has voluntereed to take note for the Deaf students at the university. She e-mailed her friends and they started summarizing and tweeting the content of news for the Deaf community on the afternoon of March 13.

More hearing university students in the Kansai Region responded Tajima's request, joining the effort . Ten students alternatively summarize the news such as the earthquake, nuclear power plants, and rolling blackouts and tweet by two hours at evening and night.

Tajima, a senior majoring in social work who will graduate on March 19, spoke, "I want to work hard until March 18 though I am busy at the end of the student life".

First interpreting at government press conference on disaster


The government started to provide the interpreting service at the press conference related to the Eastern Japan Earthquake in the Prime Minister's Office on the afternoon of March 13.

The purpose is to offer the Deaf community information immediately, and the interview of Prime Minister Naoto Kan and the Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano will be interpreted. It will continue for at least about two weeks.

Deaf Experience related to earthquake: H3 Videos

Meri Hirose Tells Her Earthquake Experience

H3 Videos

Meri Hirose Explains Why Twitter Helps Deaf Survivors

See more videos on this site (sign language and English) which introduces information on the disaster in Japan.

A week after the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan

The 4th worst earthquake (magnitude 9.0) along with tsunami hit eastern prefectures in Japan facing the Pacific Ocean (Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Chiba, etc.) on March 11, 2011. And also the nuke crisis occurred.

A week has passed after the disaster and accident which have forced the local residents to evacuate to other locations else, enduring the hard life without food, water, heat, even medicine, etc.

The following data as of March 18 shows how severe the result of the disaster was.

- 6,911 persons lost life, more than the deaths by the Hanshin Earthquake in 1995.
- Whereabouts of more than 18,994 persons are unknown.
- 403,975 persons evacuated to the shelter. Out of them 15,000 moved out of their local prefecture to live in a safer place.
- Aftershocks with more than 5.0 magnitude occurred 265 times until March 18 morning.
- The area hit by the tsunami was about 400km square.
- 16,148 persons are isolated from the surroundings due to lack of telecommunications as the tsunami shattered almost all the roads.
- The land in Miyagi and Iwate prefectures moved east by 4 meters at most. Part of the land was sunk about 70 centimeters because of the tsunami.

Source: Asahi Shimbun (2011/3/18)

If you are interested in following up, check NHK World (English) site:

Earthquake hit Eastern Japan (International Sign & ASL)

H3: Breaking News – Merritt Holloway Reports from Tokyo, Japan


On March 11, 2011, the fifth worst earthquake in recorded history (since approximately the 1800’s) occurred in Japan. Tokyo has not seen an earthquake of the same magnitude in 140 years.

Flashing fire-alarm device for the Deaf required to install at public facilities

A flashing fire-alarm device for the Deaf with the sign for evacuation in Tokyo Metropolitan Government
(photo: http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/news/20110308-OYT1T00624.htm)


The Fire and Disaster Management Agency under the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications has decided the policy of obligating the installation of the flashing fire-alarm device for the Deaf in public facilities such as the airports, the stations, hotels, etc.

Authorities will revise the fire regulations to require these public facilities to use not only audio alarm devices but also the flashing alarm one to warn the Deaf of the fire simultaneously. The revised regulations will start in fiscal year 2013 for newly-built facilities.

When a fire occurs, many Deaf persons are not aware of the sound of the fire-alarm device and emergency announcements in the public facility, and feel uneasiness for staying at the hotel alone, etc. Moreover, a Deaf person notices a small fire by the searchlight of the fire engine.

New Zealand earthquake victim speaks interpreting at press helpful

Chris Koizumi (center) speaks on her experience with New Zealand earthquake.
(photo: http://www.sannichi.co.jp/local/news/2011/03/07/6.html)


The Yamanashi Prefecture Association and other groups hosted the annual ear day festival at the center in South Alps City, Yamanashi Prefecture on March 6.

As part of the program, a hearing woman, Chris Koizumi (34), was invited to give a speech on the recent earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand that occurred in February.

She has learned to become an interpreter in Kofu City in the prefecture, and had stayed to learn New Zealand sign language at that time when the earthquake hit the city.

She explained what the disaster situation of the Deaf community in Christchurch looked like. She said the interpreting at the press briefing was greatly helpful to them.

Festival in Hiroshima Prefecture to worship the god in the form of the ear

Mother and her child pray for health of the ear by touching the ear-type symbol
(photo: http://www.chugoku-np.co.jp/News/Tn201103040005.html)


The ear festival was held at the Mimigo Shrine in the precinct of the Oyama Shinto shrine in Onomichi City, Hiroshima Prefecture on March 3. It was the sixth anniversary, sponsored by the festival preservation society, and about 200 people visited it.

A couple of the ear type made of the cloth of 60 centimeters in length and 25 centimeters in width were decorated at the shrine known as a god with the ear. The visitors passed the ear knot string made of paper that their wish was written.

A housewife (31) from Fukuyama City visited with her first daughter, eght months years old and hard of hearing. She said, "I had visited before the operation on the ear of my daughter in January. I thanked for the successful operation and prayed for its effect on her".

Japanese sweeties with the ear shaped toppings and sake also were served in the precinct.

Deaf skier restarts training in Aomori Prefecture for next Deaflympic Games

KITASHIRO Daichi (left) at training with advice from his coach on in the skiing area.
(photo: http://www.toonippo.co.jp/news_too/nto2011/20110224155939.asp)


The Deaflympic Winter Games which were to be opened in Slovakia were suddenly canceled.

A Deaf high school student, KITASHIRO Daichi (17), who is currently enrolled in the mainstream program, was an alpine skier on the Japanese national team, returning home in Hirosaki City, Aomori Prefecture on February 18.

He has restarted the practice, switching regrettable feelings, and working hard at training for the Deaflympic Games four years later.

Group formed to start medical interpreting system in Osaka

Taking the opportunity that the city hospital is being rebuilt in Hirakata City, Osaka Prefecture, a group will be formed in May to request the medical interpreting for Deaf persons and foreigners who have difficulties in communications with the medical staff to get the proper health care.

The preparatory meeting was held on February 12. It was found out that there is no medical institution that employs the full-time interpreter for the Deaf or the foreigners in the past.

The formal meeting is scheduled on May 14. TERASHIMA Koji (47) called for forming the group as his Deaf wife Hisae (49) often goes to the city hospital.

The city has the sign language interpreter dispatch system, which requires the application beforehand. So it is quite impossible to deal with the situation such as a sudden sickness or doctor's visit around in the hospital.

The foreign residents have faced with the same language problem as the Deaf Japanese in the medical situation.

Terashima learned that in the United States, medical interpreting covers not only the foreign languages but also the sign language for the medical treatment.

He and his friends decided to form a group to appeal the necessity of the medical interpreters for the Deaf and the foreign residents in the city.

There are about 1000 Deaf residents with with the physical disability certificate and about 4100 foreign counterparts who completed the alien registration in the city according to city officials.

At the preparatory meeting including both the Deaf and foreign communities, it was confirmed that the members would develop the activity to establish a system that works for the interested persons to be medically treated at ease.

Deaf photographer wins top award for work

February 8, 2011

The MIO Photo Award has continued to encourage the youth who challenge the photographic expression as one of the cultures of Osaka, celebrating the 13th anniversary this year.

The works exhibition was held in the city on February 5-13, 2011.

A Deaf female photographer, MORIYAMA Manami, won the grand prix for her work titled "Cell". She was born in Tokyo in 1986.

Her work is introduced on the following website:

MIO Photo Award official website:

Parents submit signatures to education board on school for the Deaf in Shiga Prefecture

A group of parents submits signatures to the Shiga Prefecture Education Board in the Prefecture Government Office.
(photo: http://www.kyoto-np.co.jp/education/article/20110131000113)

January 31, 2011

A group of 20 parents having Deaf children submitted the signatures of 13,508 people, which were collected four months since September, 2010, to the prefecture education board in Shiga near Kyoto on January 31.

To aim to strengthen the support to children with learning disorder (LD), etc., and to unify the schools for the blind, deaf and other disabled as a "special support school", the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology revised the School Education Law in 2007. The local governments, etc. are to make the judgment concerning admission of the children with disabilities.

The group of parents demanded the enhancement of the educational environment like the installation of the air-conditioning machine, etc., because as they say the hearing aid becomes useless in summer by the Deaf child's sweat. Also "the specialty is indispensable for the language development, etc of the Deaf children as cited the reason for keeping the school open.

In response, education board officials said, "The unification to the special support school is not a case now," etc.

Deaf students pass national qualification examination on dangerous substances handling

HIRAMATSU Toru (right) and ABE Mahiro
(photo: http://www.oita-press.co.jp/localNews/2011_129626538949.html)

January 29, 2011

HIRAMATSU Toru (17) and ABE Mahiro (17), both a high school student of the Oita Prefecture School for the Deaf located in Oita City in a southern island of Japan, passed the national qualification examination for a "second-level dangerous substances handler" that had been conducted in November, 2010.

There are six kinds of test in the examination, and Hiramatsu was successfully qualified for all the tests this time while Abe acquired the fourth kind of test.

There are three types in the national qualification on handling dangerous substances, and the second-level examination includes six kinds of test.

Hiramatsu was qualified as a handler by passing up to the fourth test in November, 2009. It is possible to take an examination up to three at once by passing the fourth test. He said, "I had to try hard to remember the name, etc. of each material". After he graduates this spring, he will be employed in a car company that he has dreamed for. He said with a smile, "My future goal is to get a driving license and go on driving".

Abe spent a year for preparation and passed the narrow gate of the national examination which the ratio of successful applicants in the prefecture for the examination was about 26%. He said, "I was glad when I learned that I made it, because it was very difficult. I will work hard aiming at passing the rest of the tests just like Hiramatsu."

The Oita Prefecture branch of the Japan Fire Engineering Qualification Center that sponsors the national qualifying examination spoke, "Hiramatsu might be the first Deaf high school student who is successfully qualified for all kinds of handler in the prefecture".