Information from one-year updates on the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami

Table of Contents

Our process

  • We searched Reliefweb publications about Japan that were posted from January – July 2012,1 a time frame that encompasses the one-year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
  • We looked for publications released by charities that are on the list of charities we included in our report on the January 2010 Haiti earthquake. The basic goal was to go through the "big name" organizations and find the ones that had put out some information regarding their Japan relief efforts. We also wanted to make sure that we included all organizations that were prominent in our 2011 analysis, and the combination of these two criteria did end up including all such organizations with the exceptions of Oxfam and Japanese Red Cross (so we added the latter two to our list of organizations to investigate).
  • For each charity on our list of organizations to investigate, we tried to find a one-year report on Japan relief (both by following any links from the Reliefweb search described above and by searching on Google for "[organization name] japan report"/"site:[organization website] japan report").
  • For each of these charities, if we found a one-year report we examined this report; otherwise we examined the closest thing we could find (generally a press release focused on a one-year update).
  • We looked specifically for
    • Any information on the totals and breakdowns of revenues and expenses for the relief effort.
    • The most detailed and specific descriptions we could find of what the funds had been spent on/what activities the organization had engaged in. We focused on past activities rather than planned activities.
  • We have summarized this information below.

Information from the organizations' one-year reports

American Red Cross

Link to one-year report (GiveWell archive)

"Due to the generous support of donors, the American Red Cross raised $312 million for Japan relief and recovery and, one year later, virtually all the funds have been spent. More than 90 percent of the money has gone to the Japanese Red Cross to improve living conditions for families who lost their homes and to rebuild needed hospitals and a nursing school. The remainder of the money has been used to cover costs the American Red Cross incurred assisting U.S. military family evacuations from Japan, U.S.-based preparedness efforts associated with the tsunami, as well as general operating costs of the American Red Cross" (7).

“During those initial days, the American Red Cross also responded with—

  • An initial $10 million to support Japanese Red Cross response activities;
  • Three experienced disaster specialists who served as advisors to the Japanese Red Cross;
  • An additional $1.5 million to support the logistics efforts of the World Food Programme and the foreign national repatriation efforts of the International Organization for Migration;
  • Logistical support and comfort to more than 7,800 U.S. military families during a voluntary departure from Japan following the disaster; and
  • Preparedness information and shelter readiness in the U.S. in the initial hours after the earthquake as the tsunami wave approached Hawaii and the West Coast” (3).

Budget on page 7 states that 60% was spent on "Emergency & shelter services (Providing relief supplies and improving conditions in temporary homes)"; 36% on "Health & Support Services (Rebuilding hospitals and nursing school; providing medical and emotional care and services for the elderly and children)"; and 4% on "Disaster preparedness (Improving response capacity of the Japanese Red Cross)."

Japanese Red Cross

Link to one-year report (GiveWell archive)

The report separates discussions of the relief operation (pages 6-9), recovery activities (pages 10-20), and cash grants (page 24).

Relief operation:

Included emergency medical services (augmenting hospital capabilities), distribution of emergency relief supplies ("On top of individual items such as instant meals, towels, emergency materials and equipment were distributed in sets by the JRCS: emergency kits and sleeping sets" (7)), psychosocial support staff, supplemental nursing staff, and volunteer mobilization (volunteers "consisted partly of specially trained volunteers for disaster interventions, but most of them contributed by running donation drives in their communities" (9)). No expenses are provided in this section; it is unclear whether the budget discussed in the next section includes them.

Recovery activities:

Page 10 provides a budget, and the following pages provide more description. The total amount is ~53 billion JPY (~$676 million using the exchange rate at 8/1/20122 ), which roughly matches the total revenue reported on page 27.

  • ~53% was spent on "Improving the living conditions of affected people in evacuation centres and temporary housing," of which the vast bulk (49.06% of the overall budget; 93% of this category) was spent on "Distribution of six electronic household appliance sets" (10). More detail on the latter: "As of 18 April, a total of 130,762 sets of six electronic household appliances sets had been distributed to 18,840 households in Iwate, 48,638 in Miyagi, 61,464 in Fukushima and 1,820 in other prefectures. This project has been extended a numerous times per requests by the municipalities. The project is foreseen to continue until September 2012" (16).
  • ~18% was spent on "rehabilitation of health infrastructure in Ishinomaki area" (10). Page 13 gives more detail; these expenses included construction and repair of hospitals and medical centers, as well as a health training center, a nursing school and a community health and elderly welfare center, to replace those that had been damaged or destroyed.
  • ~9% was spent on "Regional health care support - pneumonia vaccination for elderly, etc." (10). ("Pneumonia is the fourth cause of death for elderly in Japan and as the rate of infection increases rapidly for people over seventy, vaccination was in urgent need for elderly over seventy years of age in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima and started on 15 October" (12).)
  • ~4% on "Assistance for nuclear power plant accident victims” (10). ("A Whole Body counter and 2 thyroid gland monitors are provided at Fukushima Red Cross Hospital. 72 pieces of specialized equipment to monitor radiation levels for food items have been (or are being) distributed in 65 locations in both Miyagi and Fukushima … A project team focusing on nuclear issues was established in April 2012… to initiate a process for drafting guidelines on preparedness for nuclear accidents within the Movement in accordance with the resolution to address humanitarian consequences of nuclear accidents passed by the 2011 International Conference in Geneva” (13).
  • ~5% is allocated to "projects yet to be determined" (10). ("Projects currently under consideration focus on support for: 1) evacuees in prefabricated houses, 2) elderly, 3) school children and 4) victims of the nuclear accident” (20).)
  • Total allocated to the first two categories, "Distribution of Emergency Relief Supplies" and "Emergency medical services and PSP," is 0.83% (10), though it is not clear whether this includes the activities described on pages 6-9 under "Relief operation" or just activities that followed the emergency phase (6). (No budget is given for the relief operation.)

Cash grants:

"As of 25 April, 2012, JPY315,561,803,737 (USD 3.89 billion) has been collected from national and international donor sources by the JRCS (excluding the funds donated by sister societies). Together with the donations collected by the Central Community Chest of Japan2 and NHK (the national TV company), JPY349,160,635,278 (USD 4.3 billion) has been transferred to 15 prefectures. To date, JPY340 billion (USD 4.2 billion) has been delivered from the Central Grant Disbursement Committee to the municipalities of which JPY305.8 billion (USD 3.77 billion) has been delivered to the beneficiaries. Donations by the public for cash grants are scheduled to be accepted by JRCS until 30 September 2012" (24). It is unclear to us why the total revenue here exceeds the total reported on page 27.


Link to one-year report (GiveWell archive)

  • "Since March 2011, AmeriCares has provided $3.2 million in aid to Japan, including medical and hygiene supplies, vehicles for mobile medical teams, dental clinics, space heaters for evacuees in temporary apartments and medical and social services for devastated communities up and down the coast” (1).
  • Fukushima: "For those who chose to stay: After surviving the earthquake and escaping from the tsunami waters, residents in Yamamoto-cho are left with damaged homes, mud and radioactive contamination. Every week, the residents gather at a sports complex to receive personal care items, including protective face masks that filter dust particles. For many, this weekly meeting is the only time they see their neighbors. With the Japan Institute of Cultural Affairs, AmeriCares has distributed supplies—including more than 22,000 masks—to residents and workers cleaning this area.

    For mothers and children who left: Single mothers who fled the radioactive contamination face a myriad of challenges—as a group they are poor, unemployed or underemployed and often face ostracism in Tokyo, a huge city they do not know. To help them, AmeriCares is funding telephone counseling and weekly social gatherings, ensuring that the women have the mental health and legal counseling they need” (3).

  • "In Kesennuma City and nearby towns, AmeriCares works with Nippon International Cooperation for Community Development to deliver hot meals to the blocks of temporary houses. With NICCO, AmeriCares brings university student volunteers to serve soup and other hot food. A nurse and a trained mental health expert also join in, to identify people at risk. The hot meals bring people out of their houses. When just the health workers came, only about 10 people showed up; at an event with hot soup and barbecue, 360 residents attended. With our partners, AmeriCares will reach more than 13,000 people with hot meals, screening for stress and community-building events in the next six months" (4).


Link to press release (WebCite archive)

"Within one week of the disaster, CARE Japan reached the affected area with non-food item support. Soon, a feeding program began for 600 evacuees … Further emergency relief items were distributed to up to 18,000 households. A psychosocial program has been implemented in partnership with the Social Welfare Association. This includes a community café and social activities for affected populations. CARE has also supported festivals, traditional art performing groups and community newsletters, which are distributed in the evacuation centers and the temporary housing compounds. CARE provides support to the recovery of small businesses, and will intensify its efforts towards June 2012, to support the recovery of fisheries. In total, CARE has secured approximately 5 million USD for the relief and recovery operations and so far reached a total of 37,658 people."

We have been unable to find a more detailed one-year report.

Direct Relief International

Link to press release (WebCite archive)

"Immediately following the disaster, Direct Relief and the Japanese American Citizen’s League (JACL) established the Japan Relief and Recovery Fund, committing 100% of all contributions to be used exclusively to help people in Japan in the most productive, efficient manner possible. JACL, which was founded in 1929, is the oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization in the United States and also operates one of its 112 chapters in Tokyo …

  • $6 million from thousands of generous donors worldwide
  • $3.98 million in grants (66% of total funds raised) to 9 Japanese relief and recovery groups
  • 4% of total funds raised spent on program management and oversight
  • $1.8 million (30% of total funds raised) earmarked to support the long-term needs of the most vulnerable people

… JACL and Direct Relief have granted $3.98 million to nine local, community-based nongovernmental organizations providing relief services ranging from medical care in areas where all health facilities were destroyed, to the provision of essential food and non-food items to evacuees … Of the $6 million in contributions received by JACL and Direct Relief for Japan earthquake and tsunami relief, 66% has been granted to Japanese organizations, another 30% is earmarked to support the long-term needs of the most vulnerable people, and 4% has been spent on program management and oversight, including the hiring of local staff to audit the relief work of grantee organizations."

The release links to an interactive map that provides a breakdown of funding by partner organizations, as well as geographic locations, photos, stories, and brief descriptions for projects.

International Medical Corps

Link to one-year report (GiveWell archive)

No financial information is given. Activities described:

"We worked in coordination with local response agencies and the government to:

Deliver Medications, Medical Equipment & Critical Supplies: Our teams reached more than 20,000 people at evacuation centers with medications, food and basic supplies.

Provide Hot Meals: International Medical Corps partnered with trusted local organizations to deliver food to families in temporary shelters, evacuation centers and to those isolated in their homes.

Restore Communications: In response to the severely damaged communications infrastructure following the disaster, we delivered satellite phones, laptops, and internet-connecting data cards to disaster response centers, local non-profits and evacuation centers to allow emergency responders to communicate and process key information, such as where families were stranded with no access to medical care” (2).

“Together with our local partner, Association for Aid and Relief Japan (AAR Japan), International Medical Corps has reached 300 evacuee households (about 900 individuals), like Mitsuko’s and Yuichi’s, to distribute critical household supplies for families left with little and struggling to rebuild in new surroundings. Teams distributed kits containing basic cooking and cleaning supplies – we also delivered heating units to help families get through the extremely cold winter. Mitsuko says the daily household items and cleaning supplies provided by International Medical Corps have been ‘“exceptionally helpful’” in rebuilding their lives (4).
As a leader in mental health response in emergency settings, International Medical Corps worked to improve access to and quality of mental health services by strengthening the capacity of local organizations in Japan and first-responders:

  • Trained 85 counselors and 93 frontline workers in Psychological First Aid (PFA) in partnership with accredited nonprofit Tokyo English Life Line (TELL).
  • Hosted a psychosocial conference in partnership with Tohoku University and TELL titled, “Healing a Community: What We Can Do for Our Children” aimed at enhancing the knowledge and skills of Japanese mental health professionals with regard to PFA during disasters.
  • Promoted standards and best practices such as the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Guidelines for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings, created by the World Health Organization.
  • Organized a workshop about guidelines for local mental health professionals in partnership with Japan’s National Institute of Mental Health” (6).

“International Medical Corps partnered with the Japanese organization International Volunteer Center of Yamagata (IVY) to provide cash-for-work opportunities in Miyagi Prefecture, where 16,000 people were killed and another 40,000 displaced as a result of the tsunami. The jobs focus on reconstruction activities, such as mud and debris cleaning, which will help many people return to their homes. Through our partnership with IVY, International Medical Corps also helps lessen the strain on the elderly living in Miyagi Prefecture by delivering lunches and performing daily chores and errands. International Medical Corps also helps IVY make farmer’s markets accessible to people living in remote temporary housing sites. The markets make food shopping more readily available to the displaced, as well as provide social settings for the elderly and economic opportunities for local farmers” (8).

Mercy Corps

Link to one-year report (GiveWell archive)

No financial information is given. Information on activities:

"After the Disaster: Bringing Relief … Mercy Corps and Peace Winds provided relief supplies — tents, tarps, blankets, mattresses, space heaters, kerosene, medical masks, clothing, bottled water, diapers, toilet paper, school supplies and food — to 42,000 people living in shelters … We provided vouchers that 6,300 survivors used to purchase goods — food, clothing and other supplies — from local merchants. People prioritized their own needs while supporting local economies … We supported 15 mobile shops in two cities that brought goods to local people and provided a living for merchants in Rikuzentakata, where almost all commerce was destroyed … We started a bus program that provided 7,330 rides to allow survivors to shop for basics and access essential services like medical care and banks, while boosting the business of damaged shops” (1).

“After the Disaster: Helping Children Recover … Comfort for Kids builds up the ability of local communities to help children recover from the emotional effects of a large-scale disaster. We customized this program for Japan and incorporated activities for adults … We partnered with Peace Winds Japan and Nike to introduce Moving Forward, a program that uses sports to help young people recover physically, socially, mentally and emotionally from traumas associated with disasters … We worked with a Japanese art therapy specialist to offer art activities to affected children. Art Caravan helps kids by letting them express themselves through creative play” (2).


Link to page on Japan disaster (WebCite archive)

"Oxfam Japan is channeling funds to several local partners to provide help to vulnerable groups:

  • The Japan Organization for International Cooperation on Family Planning (JOICFP), together with the Japanese Midwives’ Association and local doctors, is delivering various goods and services to mothers, infants and women in general.
  • The multi-language center FACIL is helping non-Japanese speaking nationals and immigrant communities living in affected areas, ensuring that they too have access to relief supplies. There are an estimated 40,000 non-Japanese speakers in affected areas.
  • The Japan Women’s Shelter network is setting up a 24-hour service to support women affected by this disaster who are victims of sexual or domestic violence and women, in general.
  • The Single Mother’s Forum will set up a hotline and conduct peer counseling to single women at evacuations center and affected areas
  • Child Support will focus on supporting children and single parents.
  • The Relief Headquarter for Persons with Disabilities will provide counseling and support.

Oxfam has been ready to assist further but is not launching a major humanitarian response at this time. We usually focus our resources on communities where governments have been unable – or, in some cases, unwilling - to provide for their people. But the Japanese government has a tremendous capacity for responding in crises, and a clear commitment to using its resources to the fullest."

We have been unable to find a more detailed one-year report.

Save the Children

Link to one-year report (GiveWell archive)

Page 16 breaks down funds into "Education & DRR [disaster risk reduction] (58%), Emergency (20%), Child Protection (16%), Community Grants Initiative (4%), Child-Friendly Communities (2%)." Descriptions of these items are elsewhere in the document:

"Disaster Relief: In the days and weeks following the disaster, Save the Children’s teams sent out essential household and hygiene supplies such as blankets, towels, soap, diapers and first aid kits for families who had lost everything and were living in evacuation centers, directly reaching a total of 3,060 people, including 1,606 children. We also set up 19 Child-Friendly Spaces, providing safe places for displaced children to play while they stayed in the evacuation centers with their families – directly benefitting 389 children” (6).

“Education: In the month following the disaster and as children returned to school, Save the Children distributed back-to-school kits for children who had lost their school materials; and began contributing to children’s school lunches where previous lunch provision services were not yet back up and running. In the past months, we have been working with the Boards of Education in Iwate and Miyagi to respond to specific needs identified by the schools – and have been providing transport for students, school lunch support, and materials for schoolchildren, including stationary and school supplies, musical instruments, and school uniforms. In the past months, Save the Children has begun providing scholarships to high school students, whose families’ income was affected by the disaster, ensuring their children will be able to continue their education. To help children be prepared in the event of another disaster, we’ve distributed emergency kits to schools and provided disaster hoods for children to use during emergency drills” (6).

“Child Protection: Save the Children is supporting the psychosocial recovery of children and their families by establishing safe play areas for children in the affected areas and providing ongoing training and support to children’s caregivers at local child-care centers. Specific activities include provision of materials to the child-care centers and existing play areas for children, as well as rehabilitation or construction of new play areas in the hardest-hit areas. In Fukushima, we have been providing activities for children impacted by the nuclear crisis, running weekend or summer camps in areas further removed from the power plants, providing children a chance to play outside with friends, attend special events for children, and provide relief from ongoing stress and anxiety associated with the nuclear crisis” (8).

“Creating Child-Friendly Communities: Save the Children is promoting children’s active participation in the recovery process through the formation of Child-Led Clubs and regular research looking at children’s needs during the recovery process and ideas for reconstruction. Our “Creating Child-Friendly Communities” activities include the “Hear Our Voice” surveys, Children’s Summits and tours where children present their ideas to local and national government, and regular Club meetings where children meet and build up their plans to rebuild their towns, taking children’s needs into account” (10-11).

“Community Grants Initiative: In addition to Save the Children’s direct interventions, an increasingly significant part of our recovery program focuses on providing support to local organisations and associations, enabling local communities to provide support to their children. Through the provision of small to medium sized grants and ongoing technical support and advice, Save the Children is strengthening the capacity of local organisations to identify the specific needs of children and help these organisations be in a position to meet the needs themselves. This initiative also helps ensure that the next time disaster hits, local communities are in a better position to quickly assess the most urgent needs and begin responding to improve children’s wellbeing” (12).

“Fukushima: Save the Children has been working with children in Fukushima by providing weekend and summer camps that are further away from the power plant – the source of radiation – and have lower levels of radiation than the areas they are now living in. Children living in areas around Fukushima have had very little place to play and have fun with their friends at a time when they most need to de-stress. The camps we’re organizing give children a chance to be with friends and take part in fun outdoors activities like horseback riding, nature walks and gardening. Beyond these activities, Save the Children has been conducting on the ground research in the Fukushima area, speaking to children and their families on what they perceive are the biggest needs facing them today" (14).


Link to press release (WebCite archive)

"For instance, local communities have been provided with their own Geiger counters to monitor radioactive contamination in the wake of the nuclear energy industry’s catastrophic damage – all part of a vital drive to redress the triple disaster’s impact on health and on the environment.

It’s been especially important to counter widespread soil, water, and crop contamination, so ensuring greater safety for today’s and tomorrow’s generations. There’s been support, too, for the growing nationwide advocacy that is urging a safer and more responsible nuclear industry."

We have been unable to find a more detailed one-year report.

World Vision

Link to one-year report (GiveWell archive)

Page 10 states that World Vision has received ~$53 million for the response and expects to spend 63% by the anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami. It also states that ~$12 million of this was spent in the first 90 days, and that ~$23 million was spent by December 2011. No other financial breakdowns of past spending are provided.

The earlier part of the document describes a wide variety of activities including emergency relief (school feeding programs, child friendly spaces, community kitchens, temporary classrooms, distribution of emergency supplies and electrical appliances); school support (uniforms, supplies, school bus system, sporting equipment, school meals), disaster preparedness (installation of solar panels and wells at schools that will serve as evacuation centers); recovery support for the fishing industry (temporary offices and equipment; fishing vessels; warehouse reconstruction funding; assisting with re-branding campaign), community development focused on senior citizens ("created communal meeting areas and arranged social events"; “distributed relief items including household goods”; "funded publication of booklet providing tips on living in temporary shelters/communities" (3)); assistance to evacuees from Fukushima (summer camp, community gatherings).


  • 1

    Reliefweb, "Japan: Earthquake and Tsunami – Mar 2011, Page 1."
    Reliefweb, "Japan: Earthquake and Tsunami – Mar 2011, Page 2."
    Reliefweb, "Japan: Earthquake and Tsunami – Mar 2011, Page 3."
    Reliefweb, "Japan: Earthquake and Tsunami – Mar 2011, Page 4."
    Reliefweb, "Japan: Earthquake and Tsunami – Mar 2011, Page 5."
    Reliefweb, "Japan: Earthquake and Tsunami – Mar 2011, Page 6."
    Reliefweb, "Japan: Earthquake and Tsunami – Mar 2011, Page 7."
    Reliefweb, "Japan: Earthquake and Tsunami – Mar 2011, Page 8."

  • 2

    Google, "Japanese Yen (・) / US Dollar ($)."

Source URL: