Women hotel owners who experienced the Great East Japan Earthquake exchange views with U.S. disaster, risk and reduction (DRR) experts in Matsushima, Miyagi, bringing women’s perspectives to disaster preparedness

-Kahoku Shimpo-

Sasakawa USA Director Shanti Shoji quoted in a story published in Japanese by Kahoku Shimpo on July 18, 2024. Here is an English translation of the Kahoku Shimpo article:

“It helps build a community.”

A meeting was held at Hotel Matsushima Taikanso in Matsushima Town where okami, women owners/general managers of traditional Japanese lodging facilities, in the prefecture and U.S. disaster risk and reduction (DRR) experts discussed disaster preparedness. Seven women hotel owners/general managers shared their experiences during the Great East Japan Earthquake with about 15 people, including those from the U.S.

Abe Noriko (62), the head of the Miyagi Okami Association and the proprietress of Minamisanriku Hotel Kanyo (Minamisanriku Town), explained that she had used the hotel as a temporary evacuation shelter and worked to build a community for the disaster victims by holding events, etc. “The perspective unique to women, such as caring for the elderly and children, was useful,” she said.

The U.S. side asked questions such as, “Did you plan to use the accommodation as a temporary evacuation shelter in advance?” and “Did you conduct training for employees?” There was also time to introduce a disaster response training program for women aged 15 to 24 in the country.

Abe said, “First of all, I wanted to express my gratitude for the support given at the time of the earthquake. I would be happy if my experiences can be of use to others, and it was great to hear from progressive women around the world.”

The exchange of views was held on the 10th as part of a training program organized by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA. The group also visited the disaster-stricken area of ​​Minamisanriku Town.

Shanti Shoji (44), a program director at the foundation who participated in the event, said, “I was moved by the hardships and efforts of the female hostesses. It reaffirmed to me that the community needs the power of women.”

For the original article in Japanese, read more here.

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