Peace Boat: March 2011 Tsunami Students

The Peace Boat initiative harnessed human power to help heal the wounds caused by the March 2011 tsunami.
By Staff, Utne Reader
March/April 2012
Add to My MSN

“Peace Boat appeared to be winning the contest to send as many volunteers as possible, which enables them to cover the gaps left open by other, well-funded relief groups,” Patrick Tucker reports.

Content Tools

Related Content

The People’s Climate March

Preparations are underway for what is expected to be the largest climate march the world has yet see...

The Revolution and Its Wi-Fi Swarms

When a regime shuts down the internet, the helicopters of free information take to the skies...

The Future of Cowpoke Literature

Have you spent hours mulling the future of Texan literary culture? Well, stop right there, buckaroo,...

Rethinking Peacekeeping

To prevent another series of failed peacekeeping missions in Africa, we need to marshal our diplomat...

In the wake of the March 2011 tsunami, hundreds of Japanese citizens in their teens and twenties traveled to the eastern coast of their country aboard the Peace Boat, a high-priced tourist charter converted into an emergency relief operation during natural disasters. According to Patrick Tucker, writing for The Futurist (November/December 2011), 90 percent of the volunteers appeared to come from the country’s schools or unemployment rolls—members of a so-called lost generation struggling to find full-time work in an increasingly stratified economy known as kachigumi shoshite makegumi (society of winners and losers). “Peace Boat appeared to be winning the contest to send as many volunteers as possible, which enables them to cover the gaps left open by other, well-funded relief groups,” Tucker reports.

The Japanese army’s work in the relief zone, for instance, was protracted and impersonal. The troops surveyed the scene during helicopter flybys, wrote up a safety manual, and then—three long weeks after the tsunami hit—finally began to distribute food. The army’s relocation efforts also focused on getting survivors miles away, even if they wanted to stay and rebuild their homes. Peace Boat workers offered immediate on-the-ground assistance and tried to keep communities united, by doing things such as housing survivors in local shelters organized by neighborhood.

While the Red Cross and other organizations tried to funnel public interest toward donating money, the Peace Boat initiative harnessed human power. “The message went viral,” says The Futurist, “because it connected with what the broader public actually wanted to do in response to the scene playing out on their televisions: shovel, repair, comfort, change the situation in a visible and tangible way—in a word, act.”

Post a comment below.


Pay Now & Save $5!
First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.

Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5 and get 4 issues of Utne Reader for only $31.00 (USA only).

Or Bill Me Later and pay just $36 for 4 issues of Utne Reader!