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Top>Opinion>The Send Christmas Cards to Kids in Disaster Areas! Campaign


Takuo Tanaka

Takuo Tanaka [Profile]

The Send Christmas Cards to Kids in Disaster Areas! Campaign

Takuo Tanaka
Professor Emeritus, Chuo University
Areas of Specialization: International Economics, Development Economics, International Business Management

Please send your Christmas cards!

We have launched a campaign named Xmas cards from friends around the world, asking friends around the world to send a Christmas card, hoping to offer encouragement to and warm the hearts of children affected by the disaster, mainly living in Miyagi Prefecture, where a considerable number of victims- potentially upwards of 10 thousand- were killed by the great earthquake disaster in March. While the areas affected are now steadily moving toward restoration, one serious issue is caring for the mental health of people affected by the disaster. A profound fear of the great tsunami has also sunk deeply into children's minds. Principals of elementary and junior high schools I visited recently were terribly worried that more kids would be haunted by nightmares amid the bitter cold when winter arrives again. In such a circumstance, watching a Christmas card received from a remote stranger would warm the cockles of their heart, with the impression that they have not been left in the lurch, and it would reinforce the positive attitude toward overcoming this grief together with their friends to cherish a clear hope or dream for the future. I would like as many people as possible to offer their warm and sincere cooperation. Please send your card to the address below:

Mrs. Mayumi Hoshi (To Boys & Girls)
Shichigahama-Cho Saigai-Volunteer Center,
5-9 Noyama, Yoshidahama,
Shichigahama-cho, Miyagi-Pref. 985-0802 Japan

When I visited an disaster area for the first time, standing at a devastated town by the sea where all the houses and buildings were totally and completely destroyed everywhere with only the foundations remaining, I saw a big beautiful rainbow arching in the sky at sunset. That place was a popular bathing beach with beautiful expanses of white sand, and even local people were also looking up at the sky with us and seemed to be impressed, saying that it was rare to see such a large and long rainbow. People throughout the world are deeply concerned with these desolated areas, and this rainbow in the sky would be a bridge for delivering the warmth from these people to those in the disaster areas. Crossing this large beautiful bridge, Christmas cards are delivered from fellow global citizens, and this image was the impetus for the Christmas Card campaign.

Chiharu Hata Piano Recital for a requiem and restoration

At the same time as this campaign, the Chiharu Hata Piano Recital will be held at Shichigahama Kokusaimura Hall in an disaster area. Inviting local people affected by the disaster as well as young volunteers who came to disaster areas and have continued dedicated activities there since March, we hope to have this event as a place for praying together for the repose of many victims' souls and for the earliest possible restoration toward the next year.

There are many friends inside and outside the country who are always concerned about children in disaster areas with warm hearts, but who cannot attend this event due to the great distance between them. In order to enable such people to participate in our prayer, we will display Christmas cards that they have sent in the large lobby of Kokusaimura Hall, and some of these cards will be passed to children attending the event. Later on, those precious and heartfelt cards will be distributed to schools in disaster areas through the volunteer center. We are also developing a plan to subsequently edit and bind those cards and donate them to all school libraries in the disaster areas.

This year's Christmas is a special one. I believe Mass requiems will be played all around the world in mourning the people killed by the great disaster. Pianist Chiharu Hata received lessons directly from a teacher who had long been involved in performance activities under Faur辿, the composer of a famous Mass for the dead entitled Requiem. She has an established reputation for the beautiful sound and solid composition that she inherited from Cortot's favorite pupils.

The fundamental concept and basic strategy of the event

The reason why I decided to work on this plan is closely related to the themes I have long studied.

In a sense, it is no exaggeration to say that this effort is an extension of my past study and education.

This event is based on the spirit of rooted locally and open to the world, i.e., the basic concept that we should be deeply rooted local regions in order to strengthen the ties of sympathy, collaboration, and mutual aid among people in families, neighborhoods, and the local communities, while being open to the external world freely and flexibly to value the strong ties of friendship with people not only in other regions in Japan but also around the world.

Its fundamental strategy aims specifically at three arrows toward restoration combined. This means our hope that three arrows- people in disaster areas, disaster volunteers and other fellows in Japan supporting them, and friends throughout the world assisting Japan- get together to make a place for prayer at Christmas for overcoming this hardship and having a new year of restoration. Considering the recovery of disaster areas from such a long-term perspective, it would be critical to continue our plan for at least three years.

Community development in poor countries and cooperation among fellows

I have long been studying how to reduce poverty in Asia and Africa, particularly focusing on community development. In terms of development, it is vital first of all that local people engage in self-help endeavors. In so doing, the most important issue is that villagers led by their leader cooperate with each other to foster the spirit of ties for sympathy, collaboration, and mutual aid. In this regard, the disaster areas in Tohoku have accumulated valuable wealth. The restoration so far would have been impossible without well-organized sympathy, collaboration, and mutual cooperation among local people. On the other hand, locals regard disaster volunteers as treasures, who are now indispensable human resources for recovery work. Of course, we must not forget monetary donations, relief goods, and other large amounts of assistance from people in Japan and overseas.

Better results have been achieved by projects in which locals primarily participate in assisting poor countries through international cooperation, but continuous supportive cooperation from the outside is also vital. Long-term steady development of poor countries is encouraged by continuous efforts made by people at home and overseas who are trying to live together connecting emotional bonds beyond regional and national borders. Selected as GP(Educational Good Practice) by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, our FLP International Cooperation seminar has visited fields with students, considered practical development strategies, and proposed new ideas one after another, within a broad framework like the above.

In principle, restoration from the great earthquake disaster is also an issue of development in local communities. The most important point is how to make specific cooperative and collaborative efforts while deepening the emotional bonds between the local and outside communities, or people at home and overseas. As one such effort, this event attempts to be a place for everyone to warm and encourage hearts heavy with sorrow, focusing on children, who are the seeds of hope bearing the potential for future local development.

We would not be able to expect local restoration and development if children did not rise from this deepest ever grief to regain a strong motivation to strive actively toward the future. In this sense, your cards and the encouraging words on them sent from inside and outside Japan will generate valuable power that will be the core in community development.

Takuo Tanaka
Professor Emeritus, Chuo University
Areas of Specialization: International Economics, Development Economics, International Business Management
Born in Wakayama Prefecture in 1937. Graduated from the Faculty of Economics, Keio University in 1961.
Graduated from the Master's Program, Graduate School of Economics, Keio University in 1963.
Finished the required course work at the Doctorate Program, Graduate School of Economics, Keio University, 1967.
Became a Research Associate, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor, Faculty of Economics, Chuo University.
Became the Dean, Graduate School of Economics, Chuo University from 2002 to 2006.
Retired and became a Professor Emeritus in 2008.
Current study interests cover various issues related to the international economy. In particular, he focuses on problems regarding poverty reduction in Asia and Africa, investigating development strategies from a broad perspective through community development programs and other case studies in the field of Asia. Major publications include Studies on Development: Intelligence of the Mind-, Social Development and Human Development [Kaihatsuron: Kokoro No Chisei - Shakai Kaihatsu To Ningen Kaihatsu] (Chuo University Press, 2006).