Toni town in Kamaishi, Iwate prefecture was hard hit by the 2011 Tsunami and the severe damage meant that the fishing industry was hampered inflicting rigorous repercussions on local employment. Traditionally the fishing industry has played a central part in diving the town’s local economy, and coupled with its history as the birthplace of Japan's modern iron industry, Kamaishi City has developed as a "City of Steel, Fish, and Tourism."
During QFF team’s recent visit, Mr Sato who is leading the Kamaishi Otsuchi Industrial Research Development and Training Center, shared some insights into how work is coming along.
Tell us a little bit about the start of this company?
This company was founded after the disaster. We believe that revitalization of the fishery industry is a very necessary move. We’ve been working with the local Public Fishery Cooperative to benefit as many fishermen as possible. The voice from all the people in the community reinforced this and we were delighted to receive funding from Qatar Friendship Fund.
What role has this company played in the local community?
All of our employees were affected by the Tsunami. In fact half of our employees are still in temporary housing as a result of the disaster. The role that this company plays is important - the opportunity to work here allows the chance of communication and the means for people to live again and earn an income for their families.
And what role does the community play in this company?
We have tremendous community support from the mayor, from the local fishermen’s union and of course from the beneficiaries who are working hard and are committed to revitalizing our industry for the good of the community and their families.
So how is it going?
We’re 8 months in and our products are getting everywhere now. We are supplying 700 restaurants and 130 department stores in Tokyo. It is great how we have channeled our efforts into working together and it would be wonderful if we could export to Qatar in the future.
Kamaishi Otsuchi Industrial Research Development and Training Center is a success story. It optimally reflects a number of criteria that QFF believes are crucial to the success and sustainability of its projects. First of all it draws on the support and involvement of a diverse cross-section of the local community. It is clear that in this project everybody from the President of the company to the deputy mayor to the fishermen through to the unions and those working on the facility have pulled together with determined commitment to make this work. This not only encourages renewed economic vitality but increases the morale of a community whose lives were torn apart. The reason that Kamaishi Otsuchi Industrial Research Development and Training Center is such a milestone in the work of QFF is that it offers a model, which can be replicated in other communities. In terms of revitalization of the fishery industry it quite simply stands out as a beacon of hope.