By doing this we might be able to sympathize with others and improve ourselves as members of society. This will also help society to be a better place to live.

(This program was broadcast from a special outdoor studio in Pifuremae Hiroba in Shin Nagata on January 17 (Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake memorial day)

Talk 1

Hagio: There are many Lions Clubs here in Kobe and we are one of them. I personally became a member about 4 years ago. Although Lions Clubs do a lot of social work, most people do not know what we do. One of our (Konan Lions Club) main activities is promoting blood donations. We also help provide donations for blind children around the world, and we support children’s recreation activities, and have donated funds for school building in Cambodia, etc. We would like people know what we do and hopefully support us. That is one reason we decided to sponsor this radio program.


One reason we are sponsoring a program about earthquake experiences may be found in 2 keywords ‘children’ and ‘life’. And because I have always lived in Kobe and we are Kobe Lions another 2 keywords are ‘Kobe’ and ‘earthquake’.There are many events and activities held around January 17 each year to help us remember the earthquake, but there are also many activities held throughout the year. With 14 years passed since the earthquake, many people are beginning to forget what happened. So, we would like to pass on messages from the experiences of the earthquake to future generations through this program. Unfortunately much of the mass media focuses on major events, etc. but overlook the quiet but excellent work done my many anonymous people. However, community radios like FMYY can do this.


I am a architectural designer and although I think earthquake resistance testing of housing is progressing, many people whose houses have been regarded as needing strengthening do not have the work done. There are various reasons for this; the owners’ old age, the expense of the work, etc. While the city and prefecture support the cost of testing, there is no financial support for the construction work. And often if a person’s house has been tested and found to be weak, the owner’s anxiety is worsened. We realize that the cost of complete strengthening of a house is very high, so we think doing the minimum to mitigate damage, such as strengthening just one room (the room which is most often used) is enough for some people.I have opportunities to talk to various groups, and last week I gave a talk to a women’s association in Nagata-ku. I also do some talks for the Ward Office. However, the number of people who do this is still very few.


At the time of the earthquake I lived in an old wooden house in front of Kamiikeda Junior High School. Although the house was seriously damaged, I have repaired and reinforced it and still live there now. I had to pay almost as much as building a new house. Because my house is in a hilly area and thought it will be tough living there when I get older, I decided to buy some land in a flatter part of the city to build a house and I attended the ground-breaking ceremony this morning. While living in the old house I still have strong feelings about the earthquake, so I am hoping that when I move into my new house I will be able to face things afresh.


Talk 2

Tagawa: This morning I went to offer flowers at the memorial ceremony in HAT Kobe. The coldness reminded me of the morning of the earthquake.While I am chairperson of Konan Lions Club, I am also chief director and principal of Takaha Kindergarten. At the time of the earthquake I was also in charge of the kindergarten. My house was damaged and after checking on the safety of my family I left to check on the kindergarten. Fortunately, the kindergarten building had not collapsed, and after checking it I returned home. The next day, staff who could come to the kindergarten and I used the children’s registrar to find their address and where they might be sheltering and tried to contact them. I wanted to reopen the kindergarten as soon as possible to give the children somewhere to play, so we reopened in early February with about 30 children attending. I was moved with joy when I heard the children playing again.


One of the biggest problems I had at that time was we didn’t receive any tuition fees but I still had to pay the staff, etc. That was really tough. Fortunately, Hyogo Prefecture provided some funding to help cope. Another problem at the time was obtaining water. We needed water for the toilets etc. The Self Defense Forces helped a lot by providing plastic tanks of water.Since the earthquake we conduct evacuation and fire drills each school term to ensure the safety of the children in the kindergarten. Even if these drills are not put to great use in a disaster, I can say that they help to increase disaster prevention awareness and repetition helps to reinforce this.


My education policy is to get children to control their posture and improve their concentration though deep breathing and sitting meditation. This helps them to relax and control themselves. Even 3-year old children can do this. By doing this every day, they learn to listen to others. Another thing we do is have the teachers memorize the stories in the children’s picture storybooks and tell the same story again and again. Because children naturally like stories, they learn to listen attentively naturally and develop perseverance which gives them the ability to challenge many things. Also, by listening to stories quietly and attentively, they learn to develop stronger inner feelings. When teaching them songs, instead of starting with the melody, the teachers first read the lyrics and the children develop an image of the song then sing it to the melody.


To return to the topic of Konan Lions Club sponsoring this program; we had the support of all club members, and of course, Mr. Hagio’s popularity was a very important factor. We hope the program provides an opportunity to have many people talk about their earthquake experiences.I think recently we live in an affluent society and our children are being brought up in one, and so we often think things are okay if I am okay. But I think it is important to be able to put oneself in the other person’s position or situation and listen to them. By doing this we might be able to sympathize with others and improve ourselves as members of society. This will also help society to be a better place to live. Through this program we will be able to listen to others, our world will widened and we will be able to understand each other more.