Japan Earthquake, Tsunami & Nuclear Disaster

Past Emergencies
January 12, 2011


In the deadly earthquake and tsunami that shattered northeastern Japan, an estimated 20,000 perished in the devastation. Entire communities were wiped out, and hundreds of thousands of people were displaced. The two catastrophic events then produced a third: a nuclear disaster at the badly damaged Fukushima facility, leaving an entire area essentially uninhabitable. Within hours of the disaster, Americares mobilized a large-scale emergency response, with shipments of medical and humanitarian aid that helped countless survivors in need.

Our team remained in the disaster zone for four years, helping survivors regain their health and rebuild their lives. Partnering with local organizations, we provided:

  • Emergency aid including medicines, water, and personal care items, hot meals for displaced survivors, and space heaters for apartments with no heat.

  • $8.8 million in support for targeted projects that have helped more than 90,000 beneficiaries; the projects focused on mental health, dental health, people with disabilities, overall access to health care and support services

Restoring community through gardening 


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Helping survivors recover with seeds and soil.

The Recovery

Today, Japan continues to rebuild the region. For four years our Japan team worked from Sendai, filling crucial healthcare gaps. In collaboration with local communities and organizations, we supported 187 projects including:

  • Increasing and restoring access to health services such as dental care

  • Establishing counseling and targeted community programs to help survivors cope with trauma and loss and rebuild community connections

  • Providing emergency response and services for evacuees

  • Supporting people with disabilities

Concluding our recovery work, we have left in place a network of ongoing community-based organizations and programs that will support these important services going forward.  The organization “Baby Smile”, for example, began as a small community-directed initiative that grew into a nationally recognized nonprofit organization providing child care support services


"In the four years after the triple disaster, Americares invested in 187 targeted projects, collaboratively building a healthier future for these devastated communities.


The scale of the damage to the region was almost unimaginable as seen at the Sendai airport. Americares set up an office in Sendai to coordinate the response.
The first major air shipment resupplied a hospital
Peace Boat became an important partner in the cleanup of communities which often was done house to house by hand.
Caring for the very young became a focus of the recovery
Helping the elderly to be caregivers to each other in communities where families were decimated by loss.
Restoring communities often began by bringing the soil to life
Art therapy projects in schools helped children recover from the trauma of so much loss