THE Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Japan, the Most Revd Nathaniel Makoto Uematsu, has told of the frustration of not being able to reach areas devastated by the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit the country two weeks ago.
In a statement released through the Anglican Communion Office, Archbishop Uematsu said that despite the Japanese people’s being accustomed to earthquakes and tsunamis, “no one could have imagined” the massive scale of the recent disaster.
On Wednesday, the number of dead had risen to more than 9000. More than 14,700 people are missing. About 300,000 remain in evacuation centres or temporary housing.
The Archbishop said that the problems at the Fukushima nuclear power station meant that people were discovering levels of radiation in milk and vegetables available in the locality, and that “everybody is therefore concerned about the further spread of the radiation”.
He explained that because of such huge damage to basic infrastructure, the Church was unable to deliver relief to the affected areas, as only officials such as doctors and firefighters were allowed to enter those regions.
In the north-eastern diocese of Tohoku, one of the areas most devasta-ted by the disaster, they were still assessing the welfare of parishioners, and damage to church buildings.
Archbishop Uematsu said that they hoped to send volunteers from other dioceses to Tohoku to help with the relief effort. Even though this was an area with few Anglican churches, the Church will “stand with all people there and do whatever we can to support them”.
As they were a small Church, he said, they would have to work with other organisations in the restoration effort after the immediate rescue phase ends.
The Archbishop expressed thanks for the many messages of concern and offers of help he had received from Anglican provinces, churches, mission agencies, and individuals around the world. He urged people to keep praying for Japan.
On Tuesday, the Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Revd Nicholas Reade, said that he had received news from the Bishop of Kobe in Japan, the Rt Revd Andrew Nakamura, who visited Lancashire before the last Lambeth Conference. Bishop Nakamura described the situation as “plainly desperate”.
A charity concert evening for Japan on 29 March will now take place at St Martin’s Church, West Acton, and not its church hall (News, 18 March). The church is home to the Japanese Anglican Church UK.