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ivoh | January 16, 2018

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Media project to focus on people’s recovery in Fukushima disaster’s aftermath

Media project to focus on people’s recovery in Fukushima disaster’s aftermath

Photo taken from the outskirts of Fukushima, two years after the disaster. Used with permission from Jon Funabiki. 



A new project will bring together San Francisco State University students studying journalism and Japanese studies. Together, they’ll travel together to Fukushima, Japan, this summer to report on the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami, earthquake and nuclear power plant disaster.

During their trip, the students will focus specifically on how displaced residents are recovering from the tragic disaster. These types of stories fall into a genre we’re calling Restorative Narratives — pieces that show how communities and individuals are learning to rebuild and recover after experiencing difficult times.

The university’s Dilena Takeyama Center for the Study of Japan and Japanese Culture received a $66,000 grant from the Sasakawa Peace Foundation to pursue the project.


Jon Funabiki

Jon Funabiki

Jon Funabiki, a San Francisco State University journalism professor who leads the Center, explained his hopes for the project via email.

“I’m hoping the project enables us to use the stories of the residents of Fukushima as a way to remind the American public about the ongoing and profound ways that the 2011 disaster continues to affect people in Japan,” said Funabiki, who is also an ivoh board member. “It will be a unique learning opportunity for our students – another way we try to get them out of the classroom to apply their skills to real issues and real lives.”

The Dilena Takeyama Center published a piece last week explaining how the project came about:



The project was developed in collaboration with Fukushima National University’s International Center, which has invited college students from the U.S. and other countries to get a first-hand look at how the disaster continues to wreak havoc on the lives of families, on the economy and on the environment of the region. An estimated 100,000 residents remain without permanent homes or stable sources of income, according to Fukushima National University.

The project will focus on residents living in trailer homes in temporary housing developments. Working together, the San Francisco State University students will produce journalistic stories about the residents, using their personal experiences as ways to touch on a broad range of recovery issues, such as the loss of homes and jobs; lingering trauma; environmental cleanup efforts; the educational and emotional needs of children; and the need to rebuild community and a sense of hope for the future.


We look forward to following the students’ work this summer and plan to publish highlights from their trip.


If you’re interested in learning more about Restorative Narratives, join us for our annual media summit in New York from June 26-29. You can see the speaker lineup and register here.