By Quentin Fottrell
The Central Community Chest of Japan, a major organization that co-ordinates charitable donations throughout the country and works with the Japanese Red Cross and other major charities there, says the distribution of funds on the ground is “not going smoothly.”
This will add to mounting concerns among those who made donations to the Japan relief effort in the wake of Japan’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake on March 11th. The Tokyo-based charity’s comments came before Thursday’s 7.4-magnitude aftershock off Japan’s northeastern coast.
Worryingly, this charity is better placed then most to cope: it’s an organization with a vast network and works with a coalition of Japanese non-profit organizations, the government and local businesses. It’s also part of the U.S.-based United Way worldwide network, which isn’t activating its worldwide disaster fund for Japan but refers donors to the CCCJ.
A spokesperson for the Central Community Chest of Japan tells Pay Dirt it’s facing logistical difficulties accessing areas: “Usually, we distribute the fund for victims through local government… But many local governments were damaged seriously and some of them cannot know how many citizens are affected.”
The charity says it has raised 20.15 billion Yen or $237 million as of April 6th. The Geneva-based International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has raised 290 million Swiss Francs or $314 million for the wider relief effort, nearly 40% of which came from Americans.”
The Japanese government has already called for the process to be accelerated and established a “grant distribution committee” for the Central Community Chest of Japan, Japanese Red Cross and Japan’s NHK Public Welfare Organization for three worst affected Japanese areas, Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate.
Meanwhile, an appeal by Katsunobu Sakurai, mayor of Minamisoma,16 miles from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant, which has reached over 250,000 hits on YouTube and was featured on the front page of The New York Times on Thursday, shows the urgency of the situation for areas affected by radiation.
In the video, Sakurai appears to criticize the central government’s lack of support for the city and says there is still a “substantial lack of supplies in this area” for the 20,000 residents who did not evacuate the city in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, and must remain indoors due to radiation there.