Announced one month after a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami struck northern Japan, killing nearly 13,000 people and leaving more than 154,000 homeless, the funds will be used for continuing relief activities and to help the Japanese Red Cross advance its early recovery programs. To that end, the JRC has begun to equip the first batch of 70,000 temporary homes in the three worst affected prefectures — Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima — with a package of essential appliances. The first thirty-six of the government-built prefabricated homes, each equipped with a refrigerator, washing machine, rice cooker, microwave, television, and hot water dispenser, were handed over to residents in Iwate prefecture last Friday.
This week, the JRC plans to transfer about $800 million to the committee responsible for handing out cash grants, with grants ranging between $2,800 and $4,100 per family to be distributed directly by local municipalities starting later this month. The JRC also is working to improve living conditions in the more than 2,200 evacuation centers spread across seventeen prefectures, where the majority of the displaced have been staying since the March 11 disaster. While electricity and water service are being restored and some survivors are returning to their homes, the evacuation centers are likely to stay open for months to come.
Since March, the American Red Cross has sent contributions of $60 million to the Japanese Red Cross for relief and recovery efforts and an additional $500,000 to the World Food Programme for the delivery and storage of relief items.
"The American public has responded quickly and generously to help the survivors of these tragedies, providing almost $158 million in donations and pledges to the American Red Cross for the Japan earthquake and tsunami response," said David Meltzer, senior vice president of international services at the American Red Cross. "We will continue to transfer funds as they come in to our counterparts in Japan for continuing relief activities as well as early recovery programs."