Extracts from “Miyagi Network News” vol.96

This is Professor Hirakawa, from the Miyagi Network for Preserving Historical Materials.

Facing the reality that the number of victims is increasing day by day, it remains hard to come to terms with it. In Fukushima prefecture, uninhabited areas are expanding rapidly because of the residents’ evacuation due to the risk of nuclear radiation. Such communities, the victims of the Tsunami and earthquake are sadly beyond help, whilst the domestic animals and pets have also been left behind in the polluted areas. As this is a case of a nuclear radiation leak this will not simply be a temporary evacuation. They may not be able to turn back to the land where they used to reside for a long time, even at the present level of pollution. If the nuclear reactor melts down, our communities will become a dead zone void of all life. It is anticipated that the effects of the damage will spread out all over East Japan. I do nothing but pray for us to avoid the potential disaster threatening this area.

[ The activities of the Miyagi Network ]

We still are not receiving enough petrol, so the Miyagi Network For Preserving Historical Materials is carrying out our activities as follows:

・We published our appeal “Don’t throw the archives away!” on the homepage of the Miyagi Network. In addition, we request municipal offices to spread this appeal through their public relations sections and neighbourhood associations.
・The secretariat office is establishing a system which will assess the present degree of damage and how to rescue artefacts, through contacting municipal offices for cultural affairs of Sendai City and Miyagi Prefecture along with the Governmental Agency for cultural affairs.

・The secretariat staff are checking the current condition of historic sites and old structures near Aoba-ku, Sendai City by bicycle or on foot.

・We have got some recent information from the members of the Miyagi Network or other people about the historic sites and old structures which are located near their houses and offices.

・The secretariat staff are working to confirm the present condition of old family residences which we have researched before, whether they are safe or not. For this, we are using the aerial photographs taken after the Tsunami by the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan, and Google Earth. Quite a few residences on the coastline have completely vanished. On the other hand, we have sighted surviving houses with a mixture of relief and delight.

・We are drawing up the flooded area map by utilizing aerial photographs of the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (See attached file as an example in Japanese → http://www.hanadataz.jp/td/saigai2011/01sendai/sendai.htm), and will expand it to make out the whole affected area. Henceforth, this map will be utilized for researching and rescueing the residences which possess historical materials.

・We have gotten some information from local historians about the copied/transcribed documents damaged by water due to the Tsunami. Those documents themselves are very valuable, because some of the originals have already been lost. Therefore we should regard them as materials worth rescuing.

・We also contacted the municipal officers who cooperated with us when we had researched some old families before the quake. While they are engaged with human rescue and prioritising the care of the evacuation stations, they are still trying to gather information about historical materials and cultural heritage and how they were damaged.


About Nerwork for Historical Materials
A volunteer group for preserving Cultural Heritage suffered from natural disasters

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