Church News and Events

Church Donates Fishing Equipment to Japan

Contributed By Conan Grames, Director of Public Affairs for the Asia North Area

  • 15 November 2011

Priesthood leaders stand in front of three vehicles donated by the Church in Kuji.

One day shy of eight months after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, on November 10, 2011, Elder Koichi Aoyagi of the Seventy, Second Counselor in the Asia North Area Presidency, together with priesthood leaders and Church staff, traveled into a remote area along the coast of Tohoku, Japan, and presented equipment and supplies to the devastated fishermen in that region, adding to the support already given by the Church in other villages.

The donations, in addition to almost 22,000 Church-sponsored volunteers who have worked in the region, are part of an ongoing effort by the Church to help the people in Tohoku recover from the March 11 disaster, now referred to as the Great East Japan Earthquake.

In the town of Kuji, the Church provided three trucks, 4,500 nets, 3,000 octopus cages, and various other fishing supplies to the local fishermen’s cooperative. Kuji has a population of about 35,000 people with 1,200 fishermen. The fishing fleet was virtually destroyed by the tsunami.

Kenichiro Saikachi, who heads the fishermen’s cooperative, thanked the Church for the donation, saying, “For us who received the shock of this great disaster, the donation today from your church is a reassuring act of kindness.”

The team from the Church then drove 30 minutes down the rocky coastline and made a similar presentation in the small village of Noda Mura, where before the tsunami there were about 4,000 residents. Many died, and most of the houses were destroyed. So was the mainstay of the economy—fishing.

The Church’s donation included trucks with refrigeration equipment and fish tanks, a forklift, a large-volume digital scale, and 70 large containers for hauling the day’s catch. Both the mayor and the head of the co-op were visibly moved by the help they had received from people they had never met before the earthquake brought them together.

The donations to the villages were suggested by Kazumoto Domon, president of the Odate Branch, who had done business with Kyoichi Shimizu, a recently elected member of the Iwate prefectural assembly.

Mr. Shimizu thanked President Domon for his telephone call and his offer to help following the tsunami. Then he expressed his deep appreciation to the people of the Church who had come to the area “as if they were our own brothers and sisters.” He recognized that the humanitarian aid that paid for these donations had come from members all over the world in an effort to help Japan put these villages back on their feet.

In his remarks to the fishermen, Elder Aoyagi told a story from the New Testament.

“When Jesus Christ began to teach the people and establish His Church, He went to the shore and chose Simon Peter, a fisherman, and other fishermen who worked with him to be His disciples,” he related. “They were pure, humble, honest, diligent men. They are the ones who built Christ’s Church on the earth. We feel a special significance in making this presentation to you today.”