Dilena Takeyama Center Wins Grant for Fukushima Stories Project

April 14, 2014
Photo shows ruined home in Fukushima.
The remains of a home in Fukushima, Japan.

Journalism and Japanese studies students will team up on a trip to Fukushima, Japan, to report on how displaced residents are recovering in the aftermath of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant disaster that struck northeastern Japan in 2011.

The project, “After the Disaster: Rebuilding Lives and Communities in Fukushima” is being made possible by a $66,600 grant from the Sasakawa Peace Foundation to the university’s Dilena Takeyama Center for the Study of Japan and Japanese Culture, which is led by Journalism Department Professor Jon Funabiki.

The project was developed in collaboration with Fukushima National University’s International Center, which has invited college students from the U.S. and other countries to get a first-hand look at how the disaster continues to wreak havoc on the lives of families, on the economy and on the environment of the region. An estimated 100,000 residents remain without permanent homes or stable sources of income, according to Fukushima National University.

The project will focus on residents living in trailer homes in temporary housing developments. Working together, the San Francisco State University students will produce journalistic stories about the residents, using their personal experiences as ways to touch on a broad range of recovery issues, such as the loss of homes and jobs; lingering trauma; environmental cleanup efforts; the educational and emotional needs of children; and the need to rebuild community and a sense of hope for the future.

The trip, which will take place during summer 2014, offers the students a unique opportunity to apply their respective skills and knowledge to a major issue in Japan. The 2011 disaster and recovery process is also of particular interest to San Francisco Bay Area residents, businesses and nonprofits.

Working with the Journalism Department and the Japan Program of the Department of Foreign Languages & Literature Department, the Dilena Takeyama Center will select three journalism students and three Japanese studies students to take part in the trip. The student group will be led by Funabiki and Asst. Prof. Sachi Cunningham, both of whom have had extensive overseas reporting experience. Funabiki was appointed in 2010 as the first executive director of the Dilena Takeyama Center, whose mission is to promote improved relations between the U.S. and Japan. More information about the Dilena Takeyama Center is available at http://japancenter.sfsu.edu/.

The grant will cover transportation, lodging and other costs associated with project. The Sasakawa Peace Foundation, which is based in Tokyo, has supported numerous research projects, conferences and other activities examining the impact of the disaster.