2. English NEWS

2016年4月21日Appreciation for all the sympathy from our world sisters

Girl Scouts of Japan would like to express our sincere appreciation for all your warm sympathy and prayers from the world regarding the recent earthquake in the south part of Japan.

We are working to understand the situation, and we have confirmed that all Girl Scout members are alive in the affected areas. However, there have been hundreds of aftershocks and the situation is changing.

Girl Scouts of Japan will keep working and consider how and what we can support the affected area cooperating with our Local Councils.

2016年3月11日Forward to 11th March 2016

“What you must know for an emergency ~ Disaster prevention ♥ Is your community reliable?”
This is a title of a workshop held in a local community where I live and its flyer was delivered to all households in the area. The workshop was aimed at learning the measures of the community for natural disaster and considering what people can do today.

The event was also recruiting participants of “Disaster prevention workshop for Children”, which provides an opportunity for thinking about what if big quake occurs when a child is staying at home alone. Children and parents/guardians could join the session together.

I remember my terrible experience when I was at the age of six. It was a hot sunny day during summer holidays and I was the only one at home. It suddenly got dark and cold. A chorus of cicadas stopped and it started thundering and raining. And a lightning flush with deafening thunder rumbles! What a child of that age could do was rushing into the neighbour’s house nearly crying. Her decision made in fear was to ‘go where people are.’ That was the best for a 6-year-old child.

‘Disaster Prevention’ is an attitude how much we can avoid damage. In addition to that, how much we can minimize estimating losses and damages, named ‘Disaster Mitigation’ has been introduced and gradually permeating in the society. When we think over natural disasters and accidents which would happen in various areas no matter how the size is, we should recognize anybody could be a victim in anywhere, anytime. ‘Disaster Mitigation’ tell us that recognizing disaster as our own possible matter to be the first stages for prevention. We should be prepared.

It has been five years since the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred. It always takes a long time for the recovery once we affected disasters. Although we are in the middle of the reconstruction process, we need to be prepared for disaster some day in the future. Through the experiences gotten in ages, Japanese people have been challenged to develop spiritual strength to find a way to gain foothold even from desperations. Besides skills and supplies for preparation what we should care at times would be a spirit of mutual aid to support and to help each other. Keeping those in mind, we mark the 11th of March in 2016.

Mariko Asano, National Commissioner, Girl Scouts of Japan

2015年3月10日For the 11 March 2015

 As turning pages of page a day calendar, 11th March is coming again.
 Recently, I hear the news about the people who re-started their clock once stopped since the Great East Japan Earthquake. And they are challenging to open a door leading happiness for others.

 Last month, I received a parcel from a friend living in Tohoku area. I found red, shiny, beautiful, and very, very big strawberries in the box. I could smell berries even before I open it. There were nine strawberries lying on cushioning material. The strawberry is a rare kind and difficult to grow. Only one farmer is growing it successfully. Each wrap the strawberry is gently wrapped and one by one is shipped out all over Japan with senders compliment by only one fruit shop.

 The nine strawberries sent from Tohoku brought “Happiness” for nine people. Every person who ate a strawberry was filled with joy from the mouth to the heart. Gentle care by the farmer, good-wishes of gift-giver and passion of the fruit shop, everything was put in the strawberries. And it brought our happiest smiles.
 I would say
 “Arigato”  for the farmer.
 “Arigato”  for the fruit shop.
 And, “Arigato”  for my friend.

 There are many TV programs and articles on newspapers toward 11th March. Beside them, I ask myself if I am ready for any disaster/incidents. It could be happened anywhere and anytime. The preparation is not only to build stockpile and disaster kit. That is if I can make immediate decision, if I can be creative using limited devices, if I can bear the loneliness…  They are all in line with the energy to live and wisdom to live. What kind of action will I take on the emergency situation? What can I do? I may only know the answer when it happens. But, it is sure everything is based on the daily life. The consciousness we have in the daily life will lead appropriate action at each situation.

 “Be Prepared” is the words always in the mind of those who have been involved in Girl Scouting and Boy Scouting. Now, I reflect on the profound meaning of the words again.

Mariko Asano, National Commissioner, Girl Scouts of Japan

2014年3月11日Message for the day of Mar 11 2014

“I was really pleased when I received a pair of shoes. Thank you very much.”

After three years, the afflicted people gradually started to talk about the disaster. I can feel the clock is finally restarted to tick which had stopped on the 11th March 2011.

There is a word that comes to mind when we have a major earthquake and/or natural disaster. It is the words by Eric Khoo*. I met him in winter 2005. Mr. Khoo was the chair of the Asia-Pacific Regional Scout Committee of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) at that time. And he attended the meetings between World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) and WOSM Asia Pacific Region held at Sangam World Centre in Pune, India. He understood well about WAGGGS’ works and made effort to encourage cooperative relationship between WAGGGS and WOSM. He was a generous and broad minded person.

At the meetings, we talked about the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake**. Then, he said, “Some people say we should send groups of Scouts in an emergency situation by a major natural disaster, but I would never agree with that. At the disaster site, Scouts must face with the devastated field, awful dead bodies, and smell it. I cannot bring young people for such places considering how they influenced and suffered from the traumatic experience.” I was very impressed with his insights which express clearly what we have to protect as a leader. It became one of my words to live by.

Too many areas and too many people were affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Although, I only watched the images of the affected field through TV programme, I still feel unrestful every time I watch.

Lots of people who lived through the disaster forced to start their life at an evacuation centre. What did children see and experience there? They should happen to see and hear messy situations of adults. They must be involved in a scene too much to bear alone.

 “When is the next meeting?”

This is what a girl said first of all when she met the chair of her troop at an evacuation centre. How do you feel and think from her words?

Her words added in my unforgettable words list. As a person who involves Social Education, her words always remind me for whom and for what we work and the importance to reflect on oneself.

Mariko Asano, National Commissioner, Girl Scouts of Japan


*Ex Board Member of WOSM, passed away in January 2014.
**The earthquake occurred on 26th December 2004 in the Indian Ocean off Sumatra. It is said 220 thousand people were dead or missing by the earthquake and/or Tsunami.