April 17, 2011
The Yomiuri Shimbun
The following is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun's April 17 issue.
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When one of our staff writers recently visited a local high school in Otsuchicho, Iwate Prefecture, now an evacuation center for those hit by the massive quake and tsunami, the first thing the reporter noticed was the smiling faces of about 30 students working hard as volunteers at the school.
They were doing such work as providing meals to the evacuees, fetching water for lavatories, and directing traffic in a parking lot.
Ten of the students still did not know the whereabouts of their families. One of them had been engulfed by the tsunami but managed to survive by hanging onto flotsam.
"They are carrying on bravely during the day, but ..," the vice principal of the school told the reporter tensely, adding, "When they are left alone at night, they suddenly start crying in the pitch-dark school."
Sobbing in the dark--my heart aches every time I imagine that scene.
Let me, at least, convey to them the encouraging message actor Toshiyuki Nishida--a native of Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture--wrote for the victims and sent to our newspaper:
Please find time all for yourself, and cry your fill.
After your tears dry, a new way forward will come into sight, I believe.
I, for my part, will continue supporting you so you can smile wholeheartedly again someday.
What is needed now is psychological support for these children in the disaster-affected areas.
Preparations are under way to staff primary, middle and high schools in these areas with a total of more than 1,000 school counselors.
I hope the counselors will be attentive to the pain of these children and listen to them. And I hope their sorrow will be somewhat carried away with tears.
(Apr. 21, 2011)