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These programs provide jobs and hope in Japan

Japan after the tsunamiIn 2011, supported Mercy Corps' immediate and long-term efforts following Japan’s Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, Mercy Corps, in partnership with the Japanese aid organization Peace Winds Japan, provided approximately 150,000 survivors through initial emergency assistance, such as food and water deliveries, setting up shelters, and starting psychosocial and youth support programs.

The economic devastation caused by these natural disasters, with more than 70 percent of the businesses lost,  made support to the local fishing industry vital to the recovery of the region. “The economies in these fishing towns were destroyed to their core a year ago,” said Tokyo-based Randy Martin, Mercy Corps’ Director at Large for East Asia.

With support of sponsors like and many American corporations, Mercy Corps donated equipment and provided money to the tsunami-destroyed fish hatchery in the town of Minamisanriku. As a result, five million salmon that were hatched there this winter will be released into the local coastal waters, and available for catch in four years, netting overall impact worth over $10 million per year to the area. Additional grants helped restart the crucial wakame seaweed industry. Today, 400 women in Minamisanriku are again able to work as seaweed processors after having lost their jobs and all equipment in the tsunami.

In partnership with microfinance institution PlaNet Finance, Mercy Corps helped local entrepreneurs reopen businesses and provide vital services to depleted communities.

“We are helping small businesses reopen their doors and provide jobs and services to fractured communities – it is a crucial hurdle to overcome before any rebuilding can begin here,” Martin continued.

This microfinance assistance allows approximately 20 small business owners each month to open the doors to their bakeries, day cares, steel mills, and fish shops.

“As hard as it is, the people here are motivated to resume their lives but they need opportunities to do so - to regain employment, to recreate their communities again. It is going to be a long haul,” says Martin.'s contributions to Mercy Corps' efforts around the world is made possible by the support of The Hunger Site.

Photo of 2011 shelter courtesy of Mercy Corps and Peace Winds.

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