19th June 2013 (Doha): Four new projects were recently announced after a three-day field visit by the Qatar Friendship Fund team to the Tohoku Region. The visit was an opportunity to meet with Tohoku community members, better understand local needs, monitor, evaluate ongoing projects, and identify existing needs. Three projects, a science facility for children; community sporting facilities; and fishery storage facility, were the result of a public call for projects, and the fourth project, was developed through partnership with not for profit organization, will offer support and advice to upcoming entrepreneurs.
Fukishima prefecture was especially hit hard, and in Shirakawa City, 180 kilometres from Tokyo, a project involving a Sports Centre, Stadium and Gymnasium will receive vital funding from Qatar Friendship Fund.
Following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the local gymnasium in Shirakawa was used as a refuge centre for those fleeing. Two years after the disaster, Shirakawa, which is the gateway to the Tohoku region, will soon enjoy new sporting facilities to help reinvigorate the city and surrounding communities in a spirit of hope.
The ‘Shirakawa Dream - Qatar Sports Park’, will benefit up to 150,000 people of all ages in Shirakawa city and the surrounding regions. During a meeting with the QFF team, The Mayor of Shirakawa City shared how the city had suffered and many of its citizens are still living in temporary housing. The mayor highlighted how this project will provide critical health benefits and the importance of sports and exercise for the well being of the community.
‘QFF Science Complex’, a children’s science facility, proposed by Tohoku University, will provide students in disaster affected areas the opportunity to fuel their interest in science and the manufacturing technology. The project will provide educational support to elementary and junior high-school children in Miyagi Prefecture, many of whom are still receiving education in temporary buildings. Approximately 10,000 children will benefit annually.
During the visit by the QFF team to the university, they were briefed by the Executive Vice President for Earthquake Disaster Reconstruction, the Associate Dean for Education Graduate School of Engineering and key faculty members on how this project will cultivate the engineers and researchers of tomorrow and in doing so forge the creation of new industries in the region.
The fishery industry, is crucial for economic regeneration in areas affected by the Tsunami. A new project in partnership with Nippon International Cooperation for Community Development (NICCO) will revitalize the fishing industry in Sanirku area. This project will include the construction of a fish storage facility in Karakuwa-cho, Kesennuma, Miyagi and will provide assistance in developing the marketing skills of local fisherman.
Prior to the Tsunami, approximately 80% of households in Karakuwa-cho were engaged in work related to the fishing industry. The effects of the Tsunami were devastating and this project will be invaluable in regenerating the industry. The project will support local fisherman with increased income opportunities,; provide employment;, and in the long-term revitalise the town and surrounding areas. This project is expected to benefit 330 people directly and 746 fishing households indirectly.
Business rehabilitation is also at the heart of a newly funded project called ‘Qatar Tohoku Innovators Platform’ (QTIP) in partnership with IMPACT Foundation Japan. The project encourages and equips entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs of Tohoku to play a key role in regional regeneration through a globally connected network of start-up communities.
QTIP will provide a platform for entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs to play a key role in the creation of new businesses which would be the driving force of regional revitalization in Tohoku district. Various entrepreneurial supports such as world-class mentors, curricula, prototyping tools, a diverse peer community and real world projects are provided through a globally connected network.
QTIP will serve as an important, long-term catalyst for ecosystem development in the region, mapping, connecting and supporting existing efforts, and working together to identify and fill the gaps.
The Tohoku center will be located in the east part of Sendai City inside the Creative Industries Cluster Zone, a forward-thinking incentive program promoted by Sendai City. QTIP has received full support from the city as it directly responds to core needs and is a knowledge-based initiative that will fuel the local economy. Over a five-year period approximately 118,865 people are expected to benefit directly.
Since its inception, the Qatar Friendship Fund has provided funding to six projects that reach out to victims in areas affected by the disaster. Over a three year period, the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, has pledged a USD 100 million gift to Japan, to assist relief efforts and accelerate the recovery of victims. The four newly announced projects will continue this journey of goodwill and friendship.
Following the announcement of the projects, H.E. Dr. Khalid Bin Mohammad Al-Attiyah, Qatari Minister of State for Foreign Affairs said
“We are delighted to announce these four new projects and in doing so assist in building lives and reshaping the future. These steps reflect the vision of H.H. Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, and Heir Apparent Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani. The work of Qatar Friendship Fund is a symbol of the friendship between our two nations and we are committed to assisting as many beneficiaries as possible in meaningful and sustainable ways. The QFF team looks forward to visiting Tohoku again and witnessing more positive milestones.”