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CASE 26「Fukuoka Citizens' Network (Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan)」

Main Article - Fukushima Prefecture Evacuee Consultation and Networking Event

ACROS Fukuoka hosted a Fukushima Prefecture Evacuee Consultation and Networking Event on November 24, 2019 (Sunday). The event was sponsored by the Fukuoka Citizens' Network, and was part of the efforts to support evacuees from Fukushima Prefecture who had taken refuge outside the prefecture: helping them with lifestyle concerns, returning home, and rebuilding their livelihoods.

A Tokyo-based organization, the Iryo Network Support Center, participated in this event in order to network with evacuees in Fukuoka, along with 12 evacuees who are now in Tokyo, Saitama, and Kanagawa. Joined by a total of 12 Fukuoka citizens (some of whom participated with their families) and staff, the event began. Representative Makoto Fujii started off the event with some remarks, then the Iryo Network Support Center introduced the activities they did with evacuees residing in the capital, which included networking events. One participant from Saitama presented 1000 paper cranes that they had made for the networking event, with help from the people at their gathering in Saitama. This was given to the participants from Fukuoka as a gift. Following this, a guest financial planner provided information on various important future lifestyle matters, including inheritance and the adult guardianship system. After that, each table gave self-introductions and spent some time in friendly conversation.

Representative Fujii talked about how many support organizations could be found in Fukuoka right after the disaster, and how they performed different support activities. However, in the last few years, the activities of those groups have lessened, and the Fukuoka Citizens' Network found itself dealing with many different types of support efforts. Realizing that it was key to have people within the organization who had specialist knowledge and who were available for consultations, the Network took on staff who held licenses as occupational counselors. The Network also held other activities, including lunch meetings using the rice cooker at their base office.

The evening saw a move to a live music club for the second part of the event. A music meet-up party was held under the title of the Fukuoka-Fukushima-Tokyo Zunchaka Meet-up. The event was co-sponsored by the Fukuoka Citizens' Network and the Iryo Network Support Center. Forty performers, all of whom were supportive of the aims of the event, entertained a full house of fifty people from among the Kanto and Fukuoka evacuees and members of the Fukuoka-Fukushima Prefectural Association, and around a hundred regular Fukuoka citizens. As the concert heated up, everyone sang "Joyful, Joyful" together, including the people from Fukushima. For the finale, everyone danced to a rendition of "We Are Family." The whole stage was overflowing with energy.

At the end the organizer, Nanako Yamada of the Fukuoka Citizens' Network, and Director Hitomi of the Iryo Network Support Center, said a few parting words. They reiterated the intentions behind the music meet-up live concert, and talked about using music and other activities as opportunities for meeting and building networks with people in the local community. They spoke about how they wished that the evacuees and supporters would come to bond through those opportunities.

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