UPDATE from Director Chris Noland, 3/11/2012
Dear Yoko and readers of IMAGINEPEACE.com,
This is Chris Noland.
I thought I would bring you up to what is currently going on with our SURVIVING JAPAN film project.
It has been one year since my life changed forever in Tokyo on 11 March 2011. I am one of many that were in the Japanese earthquake but one of the few to make a film about it.
In short I feel that this event is a great opportunity to wake up many people in the world who are asleep and to inspire peace and change in our world.
My Journey in Japan led me to feel a great deal of empathy and kindness that I had never experienced before, moreover it made me wish to inspire others to do the same, and to promote change. Having lived in Japan for a year I was not used to people speaking out, so when I came across this, I immediately took action and started making a documentary about it during my volunteer trips to Tohoku.
The film was made by me but with so many people who came to my aid when needed. I had absolutely nothing to make this film with the entire time, except for hope and the kindness of others. For every obstacle, there was always someone to help my through it. For that I am very thankful.The messages in the film are very important, not just for Japan but for the world. The people in the film wanted answers and wanted to be heard, I wanted to make this happen for them.
I returned to the United States to finish the post-production. During the process I was contacted by a physicians group, WPSR.Org, who wanted to show my film in Vancouver with their Fukushima Forum for the 1-year anniversary. Just a few weeks after, I received media inquiry into my project, which I had not even finished yet. CBC radio was interested in Mr. Oyama’s opposition to what was happening in Japan and to the children, my promise was that I would take it to the western world, so they aired his segment from my film (they did the over-dubbing) on their show. (Link to CBC radio http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/episode/2012/03/07/the-winter-that-wasnt-bird-migration/)
The response has been overwhelming. The few that saw the film all had a strong emotional reaction, saying the personal story aspect made them feel like they were there along the 6-month journey. I have since entered the film in some of the worlds Top film festivals in order to get this story out to the world.
After several Interviews I was contacted by CBC Canada just the other day. They were doing a show on the 1-year anniversary. Their request was to speak to someone in Fukushima, a mother who went through the experience. I could think of no one other than my now friend Yumie Keller, who escaped with her 2 children from Minamisoma abandoning everything to save her family from nuclear peril. I remember when I met her I said this was the time to get the message out. Today, CBC aired her story to the world, which to me, was the best gift from this experience so far. (Link to CBC story http://www.cbc.ca/video/#/Shows/1221254309/ID=2208497621)
I would like to thank everyone who has supported me thus far, I truly could not have done this without all your love and support, and on behalf of the people in Japan.
Thank you very much for all you have done.
I have another Kickstarter campaign to finish the final parts of post-production of the film (detailed here).
If you can help contribute, please do so here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/324769158/surviving-japan-a-documentary.
Once again thankyou for all your love and support.
3/11/2012, Seattle WA.
New Kickstarter Campaign http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/324769158/surviving-japan-a-documentary
Chris Noland’s SURVIVING JAPAN wins YouTube Nextup film contest
“I would like to thank everyone who voted for me in the YouTube Nextup contest. It is truly an honor to win and I could not have done it without all of your help, I thank you so much.”
Vote for Chris Noland in YouTube film contest to further help rebuild Tohoku Earthquake & Tsunami disaster areas in Japan
YouTube Japan will pick two people for making videos that can contribute to rebuilding Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami disaster areas.
My videos will be dedicated to giving your information straight from Tohoku that is not reported in the mainstream news. I have been a volunteer in Tohoku Since April and can show you what the mainstream media, does not and will not. I will give voices to those that feel they cannot make a difference, but with each voice together, we can make a difference in Japan and the world.
TO VOTE HERE’S WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO!
2. In the top right corner, there will be a button that says COUNTRY. Please choose 日本 (JAPAN)!
3. Find my video! (The thumbnail will be the black and white clock)
4. CLICK THE THUMBS UP BUTTON! It should turn green.
5. YOU’RE DONE! I’ll love you forever. Leave a comment to let me know that you voted and I will remember you always.
I plan to use the money to pay for costs related to volunteering up north (travel etc) and also to help those in temporary housing due to the disaster that are not getting adequate food.
UPDATE: 5 August 2011 – 5 months after the Tsunami
The scorching heat of July brings little comfort to many. I visited Tohoku on two trips, one to distribute supplies to a hard-hit area, Higashi Matsushima. The other trip was a 7 day day drive down the entire battered coastline to stop and visit each town along the way.
The first trip to Higashi Matsushima was mostly food distribution and takidashi (emergency food service). The mother of a talent agent in Tokyo lived in this town, so he decided to take his employees to the area to make a difference. One thing I noticed was some of the donated food items were being overlooked. I settled the debate over the canned Tuna, however things like Jello, instant Stovetop stuffing, these are not thing Japanese people eat, nor can they read the instructions. I thought it might be thoughtful if you are sending anything, keep it simple, these elderly people cannot read the instructions, thus the items go to waste.
My second trip was probably the most informative yet saddening. I went to Minami-soma Fukushima to visit with a city councilman that had spoke out on YouTube about his concerns. I was not sure what the visit would entail, soon I found out. Background, My Ohyama is a Minami-Soma city councilman since last year. Before that he was a High school teacher. He saw a country were graduates could no longer get jobs so he became a city councilman to help the children, which is Mr Ohyama’s greatest concern now.
He explained to us the pyramid scheme of the power companies and how Japan could power itself without nuclear, but those other power sources were all turned off so nuclear could run at 100 percent for maximum profit. That he felt the Government was not doing accurate testing methods in that it was only testing for cesium 1 meter above ground. That the Japanese Government stopped approx 25,000 Geiger counters from entering the country because they tested for alpha, beta and Gamma rays…not just one. There are over 20 other dangerous elements that came from the reactor, you have to test millimeters away he said, this is also near the ground where children play.
He told us that the reason the is no evacuation was because if the children leave, so do the families, thus there are no employees, cities shutdown and politicians lose their jobs. That the Mayor of Minami-Soma was spending 1 Million yen (USD 12,708) a day to bus children to schools outside of Minami-Soma, so the families would stay. That in other areas of Fukushima, almost 80-100Km from the power plant, Children in Koriyama city are only allowed to play outside for 3 hours a day because of the high radiation levels. Yet the neighboring town places no restrictions, yet has the same level of radiation reading. Simply put he stated “the children’s health is being sacrificed in the name of money and greed.”
Mr Ohyama also went to explain a bit about Japanese history, and that citizenship is a new thing to them. Usually one would die for their country, group or now company. that being part of a group was important. If you are not part of the group you are nobody and nothing. That the Japanese Government knows this very well and is using it to their advantage. When he says Government, he means anyone from the Mayor to the Governor all the way up. He said this is something he no longer wanted as Japanese person. That he wanted change. But the most important thing is to protect the innocent children that cannot decide for themselves, as when winter comes, the soil will erode, causing huge problems. In fact, My Ohyama was so deeply concerned, he sent his own family away from Minami-Soma, to live in Yamagata, away from the radiation. He insists that leaving people to live in such radiation is mass murder, and should be dealt with now.
I left with a peaceful but puzzled feeling. Fukushima has been shunned by many volunteers as too dangerous, but if it is too dangerous for them why is there no push to get the people out? It is not the people of Fukushima are not concerned, they are very concerned, but few have the means to up and leave. I think now is the time for the people of Japan and the world to think about the children of Fukushima, and ask yourself first, would you let your child live there?
UPDATE: 11 June 2011 – 3 months after the Tsunami
It is June 11th, 3 months after the earthquake and tsunami. I have just returned from a trip volunteering in Ishinomaki City working on the relief effort. There has been a great improvement in the clean-up of Ishinomaki, but sadly, some parts of the coastline still look as though they did right after the Tsunami.
The biggest challenges faced now that people are either returning home or going into temporary housing is aid. Once a person leaves the shelter system, they do not receive any more food or aid. They may receive approx $3,000 to $12,000 to repair their homes or $24,000 if it was washed away. Without a job, income or aid, these people are now in a tough situation, as construction in Japan is expensive and with a job, food or aid, many people feel there is no future for them. Many cannot rebuild, many have nothing to rebuild and most have no community system to tackle these surmounting obstacles.
What is needed in this time and in the world is leadership. It is time for action. People need to demand their elected officials do the public service jobs they were put in place for. So I ask all of you reading this, please encourage those you know to speak up for those that cannot or that are afraid to. Three months have passed it there is no excuse for people to be starving in a first world country because of politics. I am doing my part in gathering the voices of the people as I got back and forth to Tohoku. I ask you to spread the word that what is needed most as of now is food and aid for those out of shelters, and for those people to demand they continue to receive assistance so they can rebuild their lives.
Until then, a private group of volunteers, Foreign Volunteers Japan (Foreignvolunteersjapan@groups.facebook.com) will continue to provide food and aid to those not receiving aid as they have been doing since the March 11th earthquake at their own expense.
They have my utmost respect for donating their time, money without question and I have been happy to work them in helping to fill the gaps in the disaster relief effort.
Links for food donations
Second Harvest Japan
Foreign Volunteers Japan – Private volunteers helping with relief and aid
https://www.facebook.com/foreignvolunteersjapan#!/home.php?sk=group_189243007780487 (requires FB login)
Peaceboat – Japanese based NGO for Volunteers and food service
Imagine Rebuilding Tohoku
My name is Chris Noland. I am an American living in Japan who was in the March 11th events. In short I feel that this event is a great opportunity to wake up many people in the world who are asleep and to inspire peace and change.
I am currently volunteering and helping to deliver aid to the devastated areas in Tohoku. I first went for a 20-day mission to help dig mud out from peoples’ houses and strip them down so they could rebuild them in Ofunato and clean out a high school in Rikuzentakata. I then began delivering aid to those who were starving as they had been systemically shut out by the system because their communities had washed away. In order to receive aid one must be registered to an official shelter. Those who were not were left to fend for themselves.
Upon seeing the tragic events in Iwate, I made a short video, which I titled “Imagine Rebuilding Tohoku” to show people the condition that still bad but there is hope. With many hands coming together, there has been great process in the relief effort, but there is still much more needed. Volunteers from around the world have come to the aid of Japan, for a process that will take years.
This inspired me to continue volunteering, thus I will be planning my next trip to the battered city of Ishinomaki in the Miyagi prefecture next week on June 3rd.
“Imagine” © Yoko Ono Lennon. Used by Permission.
Takata High School before and after the clean-up
This is a video taken in Rikuzentakata. It was from a former Fisherman’s High School, Takata High School. Even though the school was on a hill, it was not far from the ocean, and it did not stop the massive wave from devastating the entire first floor of the school. Filled with debris, cars and other impossibilities, a team of foreign volunteers was able to clear all the debris, the cars from the courtyard. Remove and clean all the reusable items inside, and return it to state in which the city can use if for storage of goods needed for the townspeople.
How you can help save Japan
Many people want to help save Japan and have asked what can they do? The Tsunami that left tens of thousands homeless will take over 3 years just to clean up. In the meantime, these people will need a place to live. Japan needs more volunteers and more donations. I have provided links below to some stellar resources that have been helping Japan, including my own documentary that I am filming, so that these events and people are not forgotten, in which the majority of the revenue will go to getting tsunami victims out of the shelters and into temporary housing and back to normal life.
Invest in my film SURVIVING JAPAN – a Kickstarter campaign to help finance a new documentary film revealing the truth about the aid and relief situation in Japan as well as the fight for green energy – a volunteers documentary of the events in Japan to help fund temporary housing for Tsunami Victims.
Peaceboat – A Japanese based NGO doing clean up in Miyagi Prefecture.
Foreign Volunteers Japan – A Great Resource on how you can volunteer in Japan.
Hands on Tokyo – A great Organization providing needed supplies to those affected.
Second Harvest Japan – Has been doing an extraordinary Job of feeding those in their time of need and filling in the gaps in the relief effort.
The Red Cross – Red Cross is doing an amazing Job in Japan.
About Chris Noland and for updates
Chris Noland was a foreigner living in Japan during the March 11th earthquake and Tsunami. He was inspired to volunteer only to be horrified by the shocking tales of how many people were systematically shut out, denied food and aid and left to fend for themselves.
He immediately started to document the events of the aid and relief situation and the ongoing volunteer work.
The documentary contains never before seen stories of refugees, volunteer work in the effected areas, interviews with city, government officials and TEPCO. Despite all the donations, people were and are systematically being shut out, starved or denied aid and that many of their aid was coming from private volunteers.
Much information about this situation has not been documented or broadcast.
SURVIVING JAPAN will show how the aid and distribution system is working and not working. To give the people a voice against corporations that silence them in their want and need to move to renewable energy sources and to encourage Japan to become a energy efficient model that the world can follow.
I will continue gathering interviews from the people affected whilst voluntarily delivering aid. I have been and will be volunteering in different affected areas to gain the best perspective possible to complete the documentary. I will also be interviewing officials and pressing TEPCO about their renewable Energy policy.
Not only is this a record of the situation in Japan, I hope it will inspire the rest of the world to push for renewable Energy to avoid the cataclysmic future we will face if we continue to ignore these problems. A further step is for a more peaceful world without nuclear weapons threatening our daily lives and a more peaceful, non-violent aproach to living on Earth.
If you want to read more about my experience thus far please read here: http://chrisnoland.tumblr.com/
Any other questions? Just ask me. I’d be stoked to answer them: @chris_noland or firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Noland links