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Roadmap to Fukushima Recovery: Nissan Volunteers

Masahito Nemoto, Hirono Resident

Hirono-machi, Fukushima Prefecture – Sept. 14 – Nissan volunteers traveled to Hirono township in early August to support recovery efforts in the rural hamlet, still impacted from a spate of disasters in March 2011.

The town was struck by an earthquake and tsunami at that time, and later was evacuated because of a serious nuclear accident at the nearby Fukushima Daiichi facility.

Residents began to return to Hirono from September 2011, but the population still remains below the level at the time of the disasters.

Neighboring Naraha township was only cleared for full residential return this month, four and a half years after the tragedy.

Nissan has undertaken support activities for the affected Tohoku region since March 2011, such as monetary and vehicle donations, as well as broad volunteer activities in the northeast coastal area of Japan, and was contacted about further opportunities.

Nissan Staff Create Solar Panels

The local government of Hirono is working with NPOs, citizens and the private sector to spark full recovery.

“Hirono town, in the wake of the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and nuclear disaster, received a tremendous outpouring of domestic and global support,” said Mayor Satoshi Endou.

“To show our deep thanks, we wanted to foster a speedy recovery. The town has seen strong efforts by citizens and the government to foster hopes and dreams within the community, so that more people will return, create new value, and a sense of a newly-developed town will resonate.”

Nissan Staff in Hirono Park

The area continues to struggle, but the mood is definitely on the upswing.

For the “Hirono-machi Support Project,” Nissan volunteers worked with the Iwaki OtentoSUN, an NPO based in Iwaki, to build solar panels that will be used at a local windmill landmark, while another group conducted restoration and cleanup efforts at a school park area.

“My family is from Fukushima prefecture, and my grandfather lived in Minami Soma, my aunt in Hisanohama,” said volunteer Rina Hashimoto. “My aunt’s house was destroyed, whereas my grandfather’s house survived. That’s why I wanted to join the work team as a way to help them and people of the community.”

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