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HOME NEWS 【10 Year Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake】 Looking into the Past, Present, and Future: Vol 2. Message from Ms. Yoshie Kaneko, Ishinomaki Revival Support Network

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2021/03/02

【10 Year Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake】 Looking into the Past, Present, and Future: Vol 2. Message from Ms. Yoshie Kaneko, Ishinomaki Revival Support Network

A special series on looking into the past, present and future features people Civic Force has met while providing relief assistance. The second message was sent from Ms. Yoshie Kaneko of the Ishinomaki Revival Support Network. The Network provides safe spaces for children and supports women to grow self-reliance.

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What I Can Do to Help Others

Ms. Kaneko recently received a letter from a mother she helped. "I can be where I am today because of the help you provided back then."

The familiar landscape of Ishinomaki was completely changed after the disaster in 2011. Having lost many people to the disaster, Ms. Kaneko wanted to do something and worked with her PTA colleagues to host community events and to build parks. After meeting with many struggling mothers, Ms. Kaneko started up a business creating job opportunities for women. She supported several hundred female entrepreneurs from Ishinomaki and promoted the revitalization of the town.

"I've just wanted to make people around me happy." In contrast to her modesty, she was awarded by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in 2018 for her role in promoting women's entrepreneurship. She is now Ishinomaki's famous entrepreneur.

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"Go Easy on Yourself"

Behind her successful career, there were many moments when she wanted to get away from everything.

During the few years after the disaster, many consultants came to Ishinomaki to help. At the time, she did not even know the meaning of the word "consultant." Tasks where she had to expend so much energy were easily performed by others. "Maybe I was insecure because of my age or high-school diploma, but there was a time when I just could not listen to others." Nonetheless, there were many people who stood by and supported her. She envisions an Ishinomaki where people can actively engage in reviving the town.

At the end of 2019, Ms. Kaneko underwent surgery for breast cancer. At some point during her recovery, there were times when she could not move her body and she had to rely on her family and friends for support. This experience became a turning point for her and she realized "it is okay to go easy on yourself." "I no longer think that I want to escape. Some people cannot forgive themselves for surviving while their loved ones lost their lives, but I want them to go easy on themselves."

In the future, Ms. Kaneko would like to build a shelter for women and children. She recognizes an urgent need to provide not only a safe, physical space but also better emotional assistance to tackle parenting issues like child abuse and neglect which can be difficult to spot and prevent from happening.

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Civic Force has been supporting the Ishinomaki Revival Support Network since 2019 as part of the NPO Partner Projects for Tohoku. The projects also support local NPOs in Fukushima and Iwate. Please click here for more details.