Relatives of Japanese Unificationists are among the confirmed dead after the catastrophic quake that rocked Japan on Friday. Hori Masaichi, vice director of Family Education Department in HSA-UWC Japan, has reported that a Unification Church member’s mother, who lived in Nagano, was killed trying to escape from her house on Friday.
The earthquake of March 11, 2011 that devastated Japan's East coast is a catastrophe that strikes only once in a millineum, according to quake experts in Japan speaking on NHK TV. After the 8.9 earthquake and resulting tsunami, the number of fatalities reported is close to 2,000 although approximately 15,000 people are missing and the final death count could be in the tens of thousands.
An elderly woman and her daughter, both Unification Church members, may be among the missing, according to Isamu Matsumoto, who lives in Buena Vista, Virginia. Mr. Matsumoto tells Familyfed.org that his 87-year-old mother, a church member since 1976, lived only a few blocks from the shoreline in Ishinomaki, a city of 164,000 people about 50 miles north of Sendai, the quake center. “I have had no contact with my mother or any of my 15 relatives in the city since the earthquake,” he said. There is a Unification Church Center housed in a residence in Ishinomaki that serves an estimated 30 families, but he has had no contact with any of them, he said.
More than 500,000 people along Japan’s east coast reportedly are taking shelter outside of their family homes. More than 40 aftershocks were recorded since Friday, causing more damage and loss of life. An explosion at the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, approximately 150 miles north of Tokyo, has resulted in large scale evacuations in the area of the power plant due to fear of a Chernobyl-like meltdown of the radioactive fuel blocks inside. An exact accounting of the damage is hampered by widespread power outages and wreckage that rescuers are only beginning to penetrate. Japanese TV news agencies reported that an estimated 6,200 buildings were completely destroyed. This crisis has also hit Tokyo, knocking out some transportation, electricity, fuel and food supply. Power rationing has required reduced hours of service across the city in order to conserve power after the emergency.
Japanese Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, has also told the public that, “In the 65 years after the end of World War II, this is the toughest and the most difficult crisis for Japan.”
There are about 300 – 400 Unification church members who live in Sendai, the city that the earthquake and tsunami hit the worst. As of today, 30 – 50 members in this area still cannot be reached. It is assumed that they are taking refuge from the tsunami, together with the other 430,000 people who are also taking refuge in Japan.
Familyfed.org will post updates on the quake in Japan as they become available.
Contributed by Celine Tardy and Douglas Burton