JITCO invited the Sino-Japan Trainee Cooperation Organization of China (hereafter, SJTCOC) to Japan from October 30 to November 4, 2011, for the purpose of touring the area affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.
After the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred, out of concern for the unparalleled human and property damage caused by the subsequent tsunami, the terror of frequently occurring aftershocks, and radioactive contamination from the accident triggered at the Fukushima nuclear reactor, technical intern trainees returned to their home countries en masse. And after that, it was highly publicized overseas that Japan was facing a very dangerous situation. Recently, conditions have gradually settled down, but there are still many technical intern trainees who, facing opposition from their families, hesitate to return to Japan. We also hear that the number of new applicants for the program has also notably dropped, particularly among young women.
In a conference with SJTCOC held in Beijing in June 2011, JITCO had requested the organization to come see the current conditions in the disaster-affected area as soon as possible and to then, based on the conditions of restoration and recovery, facilitate arrangements for quickly and efficiently sending technical intern trainees. The organization recently approached JITCO to say that it had been able to arrange its schedule, and the delegation's tour of the disaster-affected area came to fruition.
The 10-member delegation led by SJTCOC Chairman Diao Chunhe made a courtesy call to the Miyagi Prefecture Office on October 31 and then set out for that same prefecture's Ishinomaki city, a city greatly damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake. In Ishinomaki city, they toured East Japan Foods Co., Ltd., a member of the Miyagi Overseas Cooperative, and Honda Suisan Co., Ltd., a member of the JOP Cooperative. Both companies are engaged in the seafood processing industry.
According to the account given by East Japan Foods Co., Ltd. President Endo, the tsunami caused by the earthquake on March 11 submerged the building, wreaking extensive damage on the company's plant. However, since the building's framework was fortunately preserved, they decided to rebuild the business, and with the employees' cooperation, they gradually cleared out the debris. Half of the plant resumed operations in July, and in October they regained the ability to resume operations in full. The 17 technical intern trainees who were there before the earthquake returned to their native countries temporarily, but two of them reportedly came back to the company in late August. President Endo said he was grateful that some Chinese technical intern trainees had the courage to come back amid a swirl of harmful rumors resulting from the Fukushima nuclear reactor accident.
Account by East Japan Foods Co., Ltd. President Endo (center, standing)
Front row, 3rd from left: Chairman Diao. 3rd from right: President Endo The two dressed in white work clothes are the technical intern trainees who returned to the company after the earthquake.
President Honda from Honda Suisan Co., Ltd. gave an account of the conditions of Ishinomaki's seafood industry and its prospects for the future. President Honda said, "The Sanriku Offing is a natural fishing ground where the Kuroshio Current and the Oyashio Current collide, and an abundance of high-quality fishery products such as fish, sea squirt, and oysters are hauled in at Ishinomaki. Even though the quantity caught and produced decreased temporarily due to the earthquake, over a few years it is sure to return to its original condition. Also, Ishinomaki has outstanding technology for processing good-quality fishery products for raw consumption, and we are not worried about the future." Looking ahead to a future recovery, he appealed to the SJTCOC delegation to please send technical intern trainees who want to learn Ishinomaki's fishery product processing technology. He said the 18 technical intern trainees who were at Honda Suisan all returned to their home countries after the earthquake, and four of them have since returned.
Chairman Diao (front, right) receiving an account from President
Honda of Honda Suisan Co., Ltd. (front, left)
Those in white work clothes are the technical intern trainees who returned to the company after the earthquake (center).
After touring Ishinomaki, SJTCOC Chairman Diao said, "I was moved by the spirit of the people in the disaster-affected area to overcome their difficulties and by their attitude of not abandoning hope for the future after being affected by disaster, but rather proactively seizing the future. Making this visit to the area affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake reinforced my feeling that it is important for the leaders of both China and Japan to work together toward recovery. After returning to China, I intend to offer guidance to sending organizations so that your request to accept technical intern trainees in the disaster-affected area in the near future can be fulfilled."
Scenes from the SJTCOC delegation's tour of Ishinomaki were filmed and broadcast on NHK, and in a report shown on the general news at 9:00 a.m. on November 1, Chairman Diao commented that, "I learned that there is no need to worry about radiation at all. I intend to go back to China and report what I saw on this trip."
After finishing their tour in Ishinomaki, the SJTCOC delegation toured Hokkaido, where the acceptance of technical intern trainees from China has been increasing in recent years. They then returned to Tokyo and held an exchange of opinions with JITCO. At that meeting, consensus was reached on plans for the two organizations to work together to promote the appropriate sending and acceptance of technical intern trainees, for the sake of the disaster-affected area's recovery as well, and to develop greater cooperative ties.