Chronological Report of Church Operations in Japan

  Heather Whittle Wrigley, Church News and Events

  • 10 July 2011

Members in Japan prepare to unload Church relief supplies following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

“We received relief aid from not only the Church, but from people from all over the world. I hope to try and pay them back by staying on the Lord’s path to the end.” —Michie Okada

On Friday, March 11, 2011, at 2:46 p.m. local time, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake struck off the coast of northern Japan, triggering a massive tsunami with waves that topped 130 feet (40 meters) in some places.

Since that day, more than 15,500 people have been confirmed dead and 8,000 are still missing across northern Japan. Aid in the form of blankets, food, water, gasoline, and other necessities continues to flow to the area, but the severity of the devastation is still significant. 

Those desiring to help may contribute through the humanitarian fund.

In a recent visit to the country, Presiding Bishop H. David Burton said, ““I’m not sure I can adequately describe [the destruction]. Though I’ve seen hundreds of pictures . . . setting foot on the ground has been an experience I probably will never forget.”

Below is a chronological report of the Church’s involvement since the disaster occurred. Read translations of members’ experiences and testimonies following the disaster by clicking on links embedded in the timeline.

3/11

Following Church welfare protocol, the Church established the Disaster Support System under the direction of the Area Presidency.

3/11–3/14

Church employees began around-the-clock safety checks and Internet search support to verify the status of church members and missionaries.

3/14

Safety check of Church members continued. Safety of all missionaries is confirmed.

Read two missionary companionships’ accounts during and after the disaster:

Missionary Work in the Midst of Disaster

Fasting to Find Strength

3/14–3/15

An Area Seventy, the area welfare manager, and a chief officer in physical facilities, arrived at the affected area and set up the Field Office of Disaster Assistance in the Kamisugi Ward.

3/15

The Kamisugi Ward in Sendai received the first relief aid from Osaka.

3/15

Relief aid from Osaka area was delivered to Koriyama and Fukushima.

3/16

The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles announced the move of missionaries from affected areas to other missions.

3/16

Relief aid from Kanazawa Stake was delivered.

3/16

Members came together for a Helping Hands activity: cleaning up the area affected by liquefaction in Urayasu, Chiba—an ongoing project.

3/17

Sendai and Tokyo missionaries were transferred to other mission areas.

3/17

Church authorities visited the Miyagi Prefectural Office and began providing relief to the Sendai City Social Welfare Council (Sendai City Disaster Volunteer Center).

3/16

Kanazawa Stake delivered more relief supplies to needed areas.

Read a member’s account, “Loved and Blessed by the Lord.”

3/17

Local Church leaders rented 10 motorbikes to complete a safety check,

Read about “The Scooter Miracle.”

3/18

Relief aid from Nagoya and Tokyo arrived.

3/18

More than 200 gallons (800 liters) of gasoline was delivered to Ichinoseki Branch from Sapporo.

Read the account of a member from Ichinoseki, "Following the Still Small Voice.”

3/19

The Area Presidency and Area Director of Temporal Affairs Takashi Wada visited affected areas with President Reid Tateoka of Sendai Mission.

Read President Tateoka’s account of the disaster.

3/19

Relief aid from Kanazawa Stake arrived via Akita.

Read “From the Temple to Transporting Relief.”

3/20

15,000 blankets provided by Church Humanitarian Support Foundation arrived at Narita from Shanghai.

3/20

Church counselors visited affected area for preparation of Attentive Listening Volunteer activity.

3/21

Elder Hirofumi Nakatsuka secured more than 1,000 gallons (4,000 liters) of gasoline for supply delivery and safety check.

3/21

422 gallons (1,600 liters) of gasoline and 105 gallons (400 liters) of light oil were delivered.

The first group (four people) of volunteers coordinated by the Church arrived at the affected area from Tokyo.

3/23

Blankets from the Nagamachi and Kamisugi Wards were carried to Sendai.

3/23

Relief aid from Kobe, Osaka, and Nagoya were delivered to Sendai.

Mopeds donated from Nagoya were delivered by request of the affected area.

Other areas also supplied relief aid including 450 sets of portable gas stoves, water, compressed gas cylinder, gas, and food. The Church donated relief money to Japan’s Red Cross.

3/24

LDS Disaster Counter Measures office was set up on the first floor of the Church administration office in Tokyo. (It has since been dissolved.)

3/24

Church leaders visited the Iwate prefectural government.

3/25

Church leaders visited Fukushima prefectural government and donated money to the Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima prefectures

3/25

Attentive Listening Volunteer services began at emergency shelters. Meals were prepared at Oshio and Hebita Elementary schools in Ishinomaki.

3/25

LDS Volunteer Centers established in Miyako, Ichinoseki, Furukawa, Sendai, and Koriyama. Volunteers throughout the country were accepted for reconstruction support and attentive listening.

3/27

Members throughout the country fasted and prayed upon invitation from the Area Presidency.

3/29

Church leaders met with Onagawa town mayor and town council chairman to offer reconstruction support.

End of March

Church began placing couple missionaries in Koriyama, Ichinoseki, Miyako, and Sendai, and continued with safety checks and support for members.

4/2

Helping Hands activities in Kichijoji, Nakano, Chiba, Matsudo, Machida, and Fukutoku assembled hygiene kits for affected areas.

4/3

Helping Hands activity in Sakai, Osaka, let members assemble hygiene kits for affected areas.

4/4

Helping Hands activity in Ibaraki and Meito allowed members to assemble hygiene kits for affected areas.

4/5

Church began providing relief aid to non-profit organization, One Family Sendai.

4/6

Japanese vocal ensemble, bless4, composed of the four brothers and sisters of the Kawamitsu family, put on a concert at Onagawa Daini elementary school and promised to donate flower bulbs and nursery plants to the Onagawa education board.

4/7

Kawamitsu family performed another concert and prepared meals at Kazuma elementary school.

4/5

Hygiene kits were loaded onto a truck and sent to Sendai.

4/7

Hygiene kits were delivered to other affected areas.

4/7

Church began providing relief aid to non-profit organization, Volunteer Medics Worldwide.

4/11

Church members provided haircut service in Ishinomaki.

4/15

The Attentive Listening volunteer team started dispatching an advance party.

4/14

Church donated 1,000 pairs of reading glasses and 400 free eye checkup tickets and reading glasses tickets to disaster victims at emergency shelters in Onagawa and Ishinomaki.

April

Relief Society members throughout Japan donated handmade hand bags for elementary school students in affected areas.

5/2

Emergency support phase finished, and volunteers were shifted to a reconstruction support phase.