Singapore Red Cross Opens Community Centre Cum Shelter In Fukushima, Three Months Ahead Of Schedule
  • $2.1M development benefits 2,000-resident Isobe community in Soma City
  • Original centre destroyed in 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

Soma, Fukushima, 13 July 2013 – The Singapore Red Cross, together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and local Soma City officials today opened the Isobe Community Centre, one of four major rebuilding projects undertaken with donations from the people of Singapore following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.

Built at a cost of S$2.1 million, the new Isobe Community Centre will serve as a space for shared activities, and a disaster prevention centre and emergency holding area for the 2,000-resident city. It is adjacent to Isobe Junior School, which can double up as a helipad for evacuation purposes during future emergencies.

“Singapore’s friendship has provided hope to the people of Soma City. Soma City is determined to respond to Singapore’s kindness by realising the reconstruction of the City,” said Soma City Mayor Hidekiyo Tachiya.

Mr Benjamin William, Secretary General of the Singapore Red Cross (SRC) said, “We are keenly aware our contribution constitutes a small part of the massive recovery and rebuilding efforts, given the scale of the devastation two years ago. Nevertheless, the new Isobe Community Centre stands today, testimony of the enduring friendship and solidarity between the peoples of Japan and Singapore.”

Ambassador Chin Siat Yoon said in his speech at the ceremony, “The people of Japan and of Soma City have responded to the disasters with unity and fortitude. There are countless stories of Japanese people selflessly helping one another to overcome the numerous challenges they faced. I would like to offer my congratulations on the completion and opening of the community centre, which is a milestone in the rejuvenation and renewal of Soma City.”

Isobe, located in the east of Fukushima Prefecture, suffered extensive damage during the disaster. 400 out of 500 homes were washed away, and the original community centre, a gathering point for the community, was destroyed. It has been rebuilt on higher ground, and is equipped with a main meeting room, a meeting room with a library, a Japanese-style room, an office room that doubles as Soma City’s branch office, storage space for emergency food and bedding, and an electric generator.

Additionally, the SRC funded the construction of other facilities in the affected Tohoku region. These include the Taro Support Centre in Miyako City, Iwate Prefecture, that was completed in November 2011 and serves 1,700 residents monthly, and the 90-student Shichigahama Toyama Nursery School that was officially opened in May 2013.

Still under construction is the multi-purpose community hall in Rikuzentakata City, Iwate Prefecture. The community hall will serve as a Disaster Relief Centre to be integrated with the city’s fire and police departments. It will be ready by September 2014.

These projects are all funded by the generous donations of the people of Singapore.

Speech Soma City Opening Ceremony