MMAWeekly: Firstly, Enson, tell us from your perspective about the affected areas one year later.
Enson Inoue: It doesn’t look like a warzone any more. There are certain towns that clean-up has been slow. I guess each town has their own rules. There’s a town for instance like Kamaishi, which won’t accept outside help, and I don’t know what the reasoning for that is, but the clean-up is going much slower. It looks like a huge rice field; a huge open field. There’s no debris, no smell of death; it’s a lot better and you can see the changes.
For the people hit by the tsunami there is stability. There’s more of a routine now every day. They have a place to stay – of course that’s only for another year – but they have housing and adequate food. The issue now is water. I don’t think they trust the government (for fear of) contamination; they don’t want to use any of the water.
It’s in a better place when you look at everything as a whole, but when you look down deeper, it still might be almost as bad or worse off than they were when they first got hit; it’s psychological now. A lot of people are having a hard time dealing (with the aftermath). Because they’re more level and stable, they have more time to realize what’s going on, and wonder what’s going to happen in the future. They still don’t have jobs yet, they still have to provide (for their families); they’re going to be moved out of their temporary homes in a year. The stress of having to start over from nothing is a deeper thing right now.
MMAWeekly: Tell us about some of the recovery efforts and what the status of your own personal mission to help is.
Enson Inoue: As of right now, the movement has changed to going to temporary housing and trying to supply them. It’s a lot harder in the beginning because they’re more organized. In Japan there’s a lot of rules. For instance, I went up with 150 shavers and toothbrushes for people, and I went up with temporary housing and they asked me how much I had, and then told me they had 800 people there. Then they told me that there’s some kind of rule that if you don’t have enough for everybody, they are not going to accept it. But there’s got to be people that need this. It was a hard thing.
I’m going to go back in April. I’m going to go up with a list of things I have, things I bought, and if anybody sticks their head out or makes conversation or eye contact with me, I’ll show them the list of what I have and ask them what they need. That’s my thing, but it’s so minute. Of course, helping one person is better than zero, but the movement is so, so much smaller than now. It’s harder to do.