Author: thestephmister


APRICOT Project Outline in 2017

Six years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake and the majority of the affected people have moved out of the temporary houses. As they rebuild their lives, however, new issues are emerging that are different from those in the post-emergency era. The implementing organizations are adapting their strategies, as a result, to respond to these emerging issues. APRICOT continues to support the affected children and their families through the following two organizations in 2017.

NPO Heartful Family Care Association (ハートフルハート未来を育む会) in Fukushima

Despite the end of funding from Unicef, the association continues its flagship activities (Child-Parent Play and Parent Meeting) with the subsidies from the municipalities. Based on the clinical observations gained during the previous years, the association wishes to add a new focus on developmental disorders and Reactive Attachment Disorder among children. Underlying the increase of the children’s behavioral issues are their parents who are still under immense stress. The association, therefore, will continue supporting the family as a whole. The lack of child psychologists and psychiatrists in the region is making it very difficult to have accurate clinical assessments of children’s behaviors. Sometimes developmental disorders are misdiagnosed as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and vice versa. As early detection and accurate assessment are critical for an effective intervention, the association proposes to organize a training on developmental disorders and reactive attachment disorder for the public health nurses and the nursery teachers who intervene with children daily.
Budget: 840,000 yen

Team “Operation Rose” (チーム「バラ作戦」) in Iwate

The name of this group comes from the distribution of roses in Tanohata village in the aftermath of the disaster. The group members accompanied the public health nurses to visit the affected people to check on their well-being. The group has since expanded its activities to include the suicide prevention in the village. Every summer, the group cooperates with the public health nurses to host the “Health Festival,” where the group carries out mental health checks. As children express the signs of stress differently from adults, student members of the group organize a separate event for them. The original candle making, for example, which applies the techniques of play therapy, allows children to express their inner world in a small glass jar using marbles and shells. These activities are very well received, and the group wishes to carry them out again this summer. Although the members provide the service on a voluntary basis, the group still faces difficulty securing the funds as the cost of transportation to this remote village is very high.
Budget: 500,000 yen


Hurricane Harvey

As many of you all know, our founder and managing director lives in Texas and travels to Dallas and Japan conducting volunteer disaster recovery. He’s no amateur volunteer, he’s an experienced and university educated professional Disaster recovery coordinator with years on the ground dealing with every type of disaster known.
The Tokyo Task Force will help those affected and responding to the coastal devastation caused by a still powerful Hurricane Harvey.
Here’s how to help victims of Hurricane Harvey.
The long-lasting and varied effects are not limited to the areas directly struck by Harvey, miles away shelters are opening to provide safe environments for unfortunate evacuating residents of the wide Texas coast on the Gulf of Mexico.
You all watching from the rest of the world may feel helpless, but there are ways to get involved and help the victims of this massive storm.
The best way to help Texans affected by disasters is to go to our Tokyotaskforce web page and donate. We will evaluate and assist agencies experienced in disaster relief.
Organizations in the US and people I’ve worked with including Japan’s Peace Boat Disaster Center are trained to respond to disasters such as Harvey, which is pounding the Texas Gulf Coast.
Dallas/Ft Worth, San Angelo, Abilene and Wichita Falls, Texas cities far from the coastline but will become front line.
This is already an expensive disaster but we can help.
Join me at or send us a direct pledge to support by contacting me via email –
All people of Texas will be affected by this disaster and are grateful for your blessings and support.
Carl Williams
Director Tokyo Task Force

What Defines the Tokyo Task Force

What defines the Tokyo Task Force?

In one word, Epic.

This is game time and it’s time to champion a cause. It’s time that over 6000 of us do something together to elevate and start the many reasons most of us joined the Tokyo Task Force Linkedin group. Proximity, Interaction, Reassurance, and Influence. Your skills are required in every field from civil, to environmental, to telecommunications and everything in between. Ask yourself, what’s in it for you? You’re in here for all of the opportunities surrounding the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, a foot on the track. You’re in already, playing, right now, and the clock is ticking. So stop wondering what it all means and how you’ll possibly ever do X and what people will think if you become actively engaged.  Let’s get on with it already.


In October this year, we will get on the global map with a small but awesome cause. Tokyo Task Force will take several young people (ages 13-17) to Japan on a life developing experience from Tokyo through Tohoku. The children are from many socially diversified backgrounds and demographics. They are mentored by Ted Johnson of TJ Boxing Academy in Delaware. TJ provides not only an environment of fitness but a safe place between school and the time the children can reunite with working parents at the end of each day. Many of these children haven’t seen outside their immediate community and now Japan. During this trip, these Gold Medal Kids will participate in exhibition professional and Olympic level sporting events, a fundraiser for Tohoku, evening socials and act as Tokyo Task Force first level ambassadors at the US and other embassies. With each of us, an opportunity for these children and many adults to explore a vast variety of traditional and nontraditional occupations.

We as Tokyo Task Force will be awesome at everything surrounding the Olympics. Since you want to be awesome within this group, do epic things. If you want to be a leader, do some leading. Since you are an expert, do the things an expert does.  Bring us your equipment to show, provide wearable technology, help fund and document this trip. Put your brand on everything Tokyo Task Force and represent well! We have Tokyo Task Force logo items for each of you at your request. We will use your donations to stock promotional items and the cost of IT and sponsoring TTF events.


Let’s level up, stop waiting for permission. You don’t need to be tapped on the shoulder again, I just tapped, nobody’s going to give this group the gift of awesome. Nobody’s going to make a single one of us better but together we will become greater, amazing, and demonstrate our capacity for epic. Tokyo Task Force is the expert, the authority and the voices everyone should and will listen to. Nobody’s going to level you up. If you want that next level, let’s take it as a 6000 member strong team. Take it for each member standing beside you ready to be epic for that epic outcome. Let’s grab it and become it. We already claimed who we are, wrote a treatise, created an air so let’s champion a cause. Build something great. Speak our minds. Build Tokyo Task Force into the business that each of you can tap into for what you need.



Q&A with Amya Miller of Rikuzentakata City Hall

The town of Rikuzentakata in Iwate Prefecture was one of the communities worst hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake, with just under than 1,800 of the town’s then-24,000 residents and approximately 80 percent of its homes lost to the tsunami that subsequently devastated much of the Tohoku coast on March 11, 2011. While reports at the time suggested Rikuzentakata had been “wiped off the map”, the town and its now-19,000 residents are rebuilding.

APRICOT spoke to Amya Miller, Director of Global Public Relations at Rikuzentakata City Hall, to hear how the town has been working to overcome the physical and the mental scars left by the tsunami. APRICOT: What has been the main focus of city hall’s work since the earthquake and tsunami?

APRICOT: What has been the main focus of city hall’s work since the earthquake and tsunami?

Amya Miller: While pre-disaster city hall was the office handling matters related to health, education, housing, taxes, rules, family care, and so on, it’s now working on these same tasks plus the enormous project of rebuilding the city, literally (i.e. buildings, etc.) and figuratively (i.e. mental health care, etc.). The main task of city hall has been to find and create land suitable for rebuilding homes and businesses, along with the necessary infrastructure, such as police and fire departments, schools, hospitals, and so on.

APRICOT: What kind of challenges is city hall facing in carrying out this work?

Amya Miller: The main challenge is exhaustion. City hall staff are also victims of the disaster, having lost homes and/or loved ones – immediate family as well as colleagues. The amount of work the staff have to get done all while fulfilling professional duties has taken a toll. Around 110 full and part-time city hall employees (there are currently 300 full- and part-time staff) were lost in the disaster and the city does not have the population base from which to rehire. Prefectural headquarters and municipalities throughout the country have sent us their staff “on loan”, but this will not continue forever. We need to rehire the necessary staff.

APRICOT: How are these rebuilding efforts funded? Are you able to secure sufficient funding?

Amya Miller: Federal disaster relief funds account for most of the city’s budget and prefectural money pays for some of the rebuildings. Rebuilding projects not funded by federal and prefectural funds need private-source funding. Municipal projects like the library, museum, city gymnasium and sports facilities (baseball field, etc.) need to find additional sources of funds to buy land and pay for building work. To date, there are 24 orphans in the city who have been taken in by family or live in an orphanage. The city still collects funds to help with the expenses of these children. With more funds, we will be able to see all of them through university. Currently, once the children graduate high school their funding is cut off.

APRICOT: On the subject of children, one health ministry survey reported that 30% of children in Tohoku are now suffering from PTSD. As someone working on the ground, what are your thoughts on the issue?

Amya Miller: Someone in Japan must start talking about the collective toll this disaster will take on the youth. One of my deepest concerns is that we will see an increase in mental health problems 10 to 20 years from now as residual trauma and stress start manifesting itself in both mental and physical illnesses. For those who are growing up in this environment where the abnormal is now the new normal addressing how this affects one’s outlook on life is a must. Unless Japan wants to face an epidemic of illnesses directly tied to Tohoku youth in the future because we did not properly handle is the problem now, this must be addressed. The time to not get counselling because of its stigma and taboo is over. Enough is enough.

APRICOT: Three and a half years have passed since 3.11 and with that outside attention on Tohoku (in particular, overseas media attention) has inevitably decreased. How important is ongoing outside awareness and help for Rikuzentakata?

Amya Miller: Outside assistance, whatever form it takes has been key. The needs of the city as it works towards recovery now focuses more on emotional resilience. Remembrance leads to mental health. Knowing “we matter” means there’s relevancy and that source of support is a key part of recovery. My role in keeping people in Rikuzentakata relevant has led to a sense of importance. Seeing foreigners in the city means someone took the time to visit, and when I bring people such as reporters, VIPs, delegations, students, individuals, and others to town and they are seen, this becomes a visual reminder “we are still important”. This matters to the residents greatly. The sense of self-worth that arises from feeling relevant is a very legitimate and necessary part of mental health care. The city is easy to cover because there’s a direct point of contact. For three years, Rikuzentakata has been the only city that hired a foreigner to work with the global community within Japan and abroad. My presence at city hall means there’s someone to answer questions, help arrange appointments, introduce reporters to key individuals and help create a good story. Rikuzentakata is the city that has received the most foreign press coverage to date.

APRICOT: How do you see your work developing over the coming years?

Amya Miller: I’m busier now than ever before. With my term ending in March 2015, the city has decided to assign an individual with the most English skills to be my replacement. A lot of what I’ve done over the past three years will be discontinued, and my replacement will serve as a point of contact primarily for the foreign media. We assume foreign-related support will dry up. The city relies on the goodwill of those who still express an interest and the foreign community has stepped up to the plate in offering this help in the pasts, but without a native English-speaker, the city will not likely see this continued assistance.

APRICOT: Thank you very much. To learn more about Rikuzentakata, please visit

To learn more about Rikuzentakata, please visit NB This interview is the first one we have chosen for our new Tohoku Voices where we showcase remarkable individuals who have selflessly put their careers on hold while they volunteer to support the mental health care for the children of Tohoku. Following this essay, Amya decided to stay on after her contract was up for renewal and continue her work with her beloved children of Tohoku.


Sport and its Impact in Communities

Tokyo 2020 is approaching and, with still 3 years to go, many people are getting excited about the event. Sport has provided us with thousands of years of exercise and enjoyment. It’s given us joy, sweat, tears and has brought us the world’s largest communal event in existence. Not only has it provided the world with so much joy and (often) friendly rivalry, but it has had a real positive impact on the lives of many.

One of the largest impacts sport has had is that it’s provided an opportunity of unity. Millions of people come together, from all over their country; nay, the world, to support and celebrate their team. It radiates a real sense of national pride that can really unify communities. This experience can also lift people from difficult times and give them an overwhelming sense of elation and a whole new positive outlook on their life.

The Christmas truce of 1914 is a wonderful story that happened due to the overwhelming power that sport holds. This was such a beautiful moment of peace between two countries in the midst of a violent war. On Christmas Day, in No Man’s Land, enemy soldiers emerged from their trenches and spent Christmas together, exchanging gifts, taking photographs and playing games of football together, in peaceful harmony.

Sport also provides healthy role models for children and adults alike. Not only is it good for children and adults to look up to athletes, as it will encourage them to stay active and lead a healthy lifestyle but it also gives athletes the chance to promote good social changes. Former heavyweight champion, Lennox Lewis made a public announcement stating that “Real men don’t hit women”. This provided a real understanding to young people about how you must behave socially and emotionally. This would have had a real impact on domestic abuse at the time and could even influence generations to come.

In 2012, it was reported that more than one-third of adolescents or children were overweight or obese. Sport provides a fun, competitive way for young adults or children to be active and stay healthy. Children’s role models being athletes means that they are more likely to get out there and play sports themselves and therefore stay fit and healthy. Sport is also an easy way to introduce exercise into children or young people’s daily lifestyle. Children have a lot of energy and always want to play – what’s better than playing a game of football or basketball with them? Netball, Rounders and swimming are all great sporting activities that are very popular with children that also provide a lot of variety, so they have lots to choose from. Sport can also be a great window into getting disadvantaged urban youths back into a healthy community as teaching them team games can help them build meaningful, strong relationships with other people.

The great thing coming from sports is you understand the concept of a team. It leaves no room for being selfish, and that’s something I picked up from home” – Michael Stahan.

Playing sport can have other personal benefits that can really aid a person’s wellbeing. It boosts self-esteem and can really make a person much more confident within themselves. Another wonderfully positive thing about sports is how much joy it can bring a person. This doesn’t just apply to the player but to everyone involved: the coaches, the organisers, the family of the players, the fans and anybody else.

Sport has provided the world with so much happiness and is bound to do so for centuries to come. It means so much to so many people and has been a brilliant reason for people to come together, whether that be to watch an Olympic game in a massive arena or to just meet up with your mates in the local pub and have a good shout at the television.

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Meet the Sponsor - RHJ Estates & Lettings

Moving Made Simple, Smarter, Better. Arrange for one of our local property value personnel to come out to your home at your convenience and let you know how much the house is worth. At RHJ we make sure that all offers are put forward to you are qualified and substantiated. We will also obtain all relevant information on your prospective buyer in order that you can make an informed decision to agree to a sale. Simple, smarter, better.

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