I am a victim of the Kobe earthquake (1995). My home was in the Nada-ward. After the quake, I learned of my friends’ deaths and saw my beloved city reduced to rubble. My family had no food, no water, no gas, no electricity or any basic necessities. We huddled together, filled with grief, frightened by the continuing tremors.
In the beginning, everyone was focused on survival: getting food, getting shelter, helping others as much as they could. However, as time passed and the clean-up began, my family and I started to feel an “emptiness.” If you are hungry, you can eat; it will satisfy you. If you are thirsty, you can drink; it will quench your thirst. Collapsed houses can also be rebuilt. But what about the loss of friends? What about the emptiness in your heart?
At the time, what filled that emptiness was messages from all over the world, saying “We are praying for you.” It was the thought, “Oh– somebody in the world is, at this moment, praying for us and thinking of us.” That gave us hope. That gave us the strength. It made us realize: we were not alone.
Together, with all of you, I would now like to do the same for the people of Tohoku. Kobe recovered because so many people encouraged us, taught us that we must support each other in times of need. Together, let us now pray for Japan.