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Church responds to Japan earthquake with donations, service and relief

Missionaries and members clean, serve, deliver, donate and give other efforts in the month after Noto Peninsula earthquake

In the month since a magnitude 7.6 earthquake hit the Hokuriku region of Japan, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has responded to help with the recovery — including donations of food, water, supplies, manpower and funding.

The Noto Peninsula earthquake struck the Hokuriku region in western part of the country on Jan. 1, killing more than 230 people and damaging tens of thousands of homes in Ishikawa Prefecture, reported the Church’s Japan Newsroom.

Supplies such as drinking water began to arrive at the Nanao Branch of the Kanazawa Japan Stake in the area by the next day. The branch president, first counselor in the branch presidency and the Relief Society president were directly affected by the earthquake and continued to serve the other members of the branch — delivering drinking water and food to members’ homes.

Around 20 volunteers wearing yellow Helping Hands vests sweap and clean an evacuation center for earthquake evacuees n Nanao, Japan.
Helping Hands volunteers including full-time missionaries and Church members clean an evacuation center for earthquake evacuees n Nanao, Japan, on Jan. 23, 2024, | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Members of the branch and stake and full-time missionaries in the Japan Nagoya Mission began serving their communities right away: cleaning, delivering supplies, helping in evacuation centers, assisting in soup kitchens and more. Service missionaries and the Church’s area Welfare and Self-Reliance Services office have also been communicating with local agencies to determine how to help meet their needs.

The volunteers have dealt with snow and poor road conditions while making sure to make room for emergency vehicle operations and other logistics in the disaster area.

Branch, stake and area leaders also provided spiritual relief and support. 

Elder Yuichi Imai, Area Seventy, and stake leaders visited Nanao for a special sacrament meeting on Jan. 7.

“I had planned to hold a sacrament meeting if even one person could come, but almost all members of the Nanao Branch, where we usually meet, were able to attend,” he said. They held a testimony meeting after the sacrament, and he said his heart was filled with the faith of everyone in the branch, which encouraged him.

Elder J. Kimo Esplin, General Authority Seventy and second counselor in the Asia North Area presidency, visited the site Jan. 13-14, evaluating how the Church could further assist in the recovery and attending sacrament meeting at the Nanao Branch, where he offered words of comfort to those who were temporarily evacuated.

Elder J. Kimo Esplin and 22 others take a picture wearing suits, ties and dresses after sacrament meeting in Nanoa, Japan.
Elder J. Kimo Esplin, General Authority Seventy and second counselor in the Asia North Area presidency, front row center, visits with members of the Nanao Branch and Kanazawa Japan Stake in Nanao, Japan, on Jan. 14, 2024, after the Noto Peninsula earthquake that struck on Jan. 1. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Aid from the Church included monetary donations to Nanao City Hall and to the Second Harvest Japan food bank. Then, on Jan. 26, the Church gave 40 million yen (approximately $270,000) to the Japanese Red Cross Society

President Eiji Nishimura, second counselor in the Kanazawa Stake presidency, and others visited the Japanese Red Cross Ishikawa Prefecture Branch in Kanazawa City to officially deliver the donation.

The Red Cross officials explained that nearly 300 doctors and nurses from all over Japan have been providing medical care in the affected region, while living on their own in tents and other facilities where there is no accommodation. 

President Nishimura and the officials spoke about the more-than-100-year relationship between the Church and the International Red Cross and reaffirmed future humanitarian assistance and continued joint efforts.

Japan Newsroom reported the volunteer effort by missionaries and Church members will expand and change as needs evolve. Church officials explained that anyone who wishes to donate or help could do so through the Church’s Humanitarian Relief Fund, but should refrain from directly sending relief supplies.

See more photos below.

Two Church Welfare and Self-Reliance representatives wearing yellow Helping Hands vests donate cases of drinking water in Nanao, Japan.
Church Welfare and Self-Reliance Servives representatives donate drinking water to city hall in Nanao, Japan, Jan. 5, 2024, after the earthquake on Jan. 1. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Two men and a woman sit at a table to discuss disaster relief and response to the Noto Peninsula earthquake in Japan.
Local leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meet in Nonoa, Japan, Jan. 6, 2024, to discuss disaster relief and response to the Noto Peninsula earthquake that struck on Jan. 1. From left, Kanazawa Japan Stake Relief Society President Hisako Hirata, Nanao Branch President Masanori Nishida and first counselor Akio Suzuki. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Two full-time missionaries and a man slice potatoes for a meal for earthquake evacuees in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan.
Two full-time missionaries, right, help prepare curry for the next day’s meals at a soup kitchen in the Hokuriku area of Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, on Jan. 4, 2024, to help people evacuated after the Noto Peninsula earthquake. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Around 20 Church members and missionaries wear yellow Helping Hands for a picture after cleaning up at an evacuation center in Japan.
Members of the Kanazawa Japan Stake and full-time missionaries from the Japan Nagoya Mission take a picture while volunteering to clean up the evacuation center in the Yadago District Community Center in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, on Jan. 23, 2024, after the Noto Peninsula earthquake. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Snow falls on a damaged building after the Noto Peninsula earthquake in Japan.
Snow falls on areas damaged by the Noto Peninsula earthquake in the Hokuriku area of Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, in January 2024. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Two Church representatives in yellow Helping Hands vests present a donation to three men in front of a box truck with the words Second Harvest in English and Japanese.
Church representatives in yellow Helping Hands vests, right, present a donation to the Second Harvest food bank in Nanao, Japan, Jan. 6, 2024, to help victims of the Noto Peninsula earthquake. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Two Church leaders wearing a suit and tie hand a certificate to an official from the Japanese Red Cross Society.
President Eijii Nishimura, second counselor in the Kanazawa Japan Stake presidency, center, presents a donation from the Church to the Japanese Red Cross Society in Kanazawa, Japan, Jan. 26, 2024. On the right is Jun Ochiai with the Church’s Welfare and Self-Reliance Services, and to the left is Masato Omote with the Japanese Red Cross Society. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
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