How do we accept the Eastern Japan Earthquake?

~From the News Letter on November 2012 of the Network for Historical Materials~

Hiroyuki Matsuoka

I have to apologise for the delay in delivering the first news letter of this year. First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to all of you across the whole nation, who donated over 7 million yen to us for the Eastern Japan Earthquake fund. Those contributions have been made good use of rescuing historical materials in Miyagi, Yamagata, Iwate, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Niigata and Nagano prefectures.

On the other hand, last September, Typhoons No.12 and 15 struck the Japan archipelago in succession. Especially the extent of sediment damage caused by Typhoon No.12 was said to be the worst since the end of World War II, and the number of victims and missing reached 94 mainly in Wakayama and Nara prefectures. In Hyogo prefecture, one fell victim and 2 houses were destroyed, and the house inundation above floor level amounted to 1,364 (reported by Fire and Disaster Manegement Agency, as of 2nd November). We extend to the victims and their families our heartfelt condolences. We, the Network for Historical Materials, established the emergent system in the secretariat office, and tried to grasp the conditions in the devastated areas and consulted how to respond to this extraordinary situation. As time passes, people in Wakayama Prefecture organised the Wakayama Network for Preserving Historical Materials, and they have started operations. We sincerely expect their excellent  work.

It is the tradition that the newest member of the steering committee writes this column; I would therefore like to set out my original intention. I myself study Japanese modern history and have been engaged with compiling the local governmental history of Osaka. For this reason, I have been watching the devoted activities of the Network of Historical Materials with my sincere respect. In such days, the special exhibiton titled “The preservation activity for Historical Materials —suggestions  from the devastated area by flood” was held in Osaka Historical Museum. In my impression, this project included the purpose of seeking for the cooperation with other organization in Osaka. I myself also participated in the workshop of urgent measures for waterlogged materials. As I listened to the story of the devastation in Amami Island in Kagoshima Prefecture and Sayo-cho in Hyogo Prefecture , I keenly felt the importance and meaning of the activities by the Network. This was 4 days before the Eastern Japan Earthquake.

Sitting at the end of table of secretariat office, I was overwhelmed by the damage of the Earthquake. However, in the second half of October, when I visited Sendai City in Miyagi Prefecture, people in Sendai worried about us and said ‘Was Osaka safe?’, even though they were sufferers. Now the bad effects of clamorous administrative and financial reform have emerged around me. Even if this is not the case, I have witnessed the historical documents and materials facing danger, which were inherited by the next generation. It is repeatedly said though, this is indeed my problem that how we share the past, present and future with locals and how to establish the preparative system against natural disasters. As I am a resident, a member of the Network for Historical Materials as well, I would honestly like to tackle this issue.

Next month is December. Soon the coldness will be more bitter. Each area has its own problem and the continuous efforts which present a new vision of how to solve them will be required. We appreciate your further support and cooperation.



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

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