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End of disaster-response radio station in Onagawa

December 16, 2015

Disaster-response radio station set up after 2011 quake to end operations



ONAGAWA, Miyagi -- A temporary disaster-response radio station set up after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake will cease operations in March next year, the station and the local municipal government here announced on Dec. 16.

The town of Onagawa, which had a population of around 10,000, lost 827 people as well as government buildings, shops and houses when it was hit by the post-quake tsunami. On request from the municipal government, the station, called "Onagawa Saigai FM," began broadcasting from April 21, 2011. Various locals have been involved in its programs, from junior high students to fishermen to former junior high school teachers.

The station has toured temporary housing for evacuees and broadcast the stories of the people living there, given out lifestyle information for evacuees, and passed on news stories to brighten the mood of the town.

Public broadcaster NHK created a television drama based on the station, and many celebrities such as the pop group Momoiro Clover Z have regularly come to give their support to the station. Station representatives also say that it has received a large amount of donations from around the nation due to its simultaneous Internet stream.

Tomohiro Oshima, 42, who lives in Tokyo but continues to put together shows for the station as a volunteer, says, "It is a miracle that the station has been able to continue for these five years, primarily running on donations. I want to thank the people who have supported us. I also want to use the knowledge I have gained to continue to give cheer to Onagawa."

Onagawa Mayor Yoshiaki Suda, who has himself appeared in the station's programming, said, "Onagawa Saigai FM has accomplished a lot, but our town's recovery has proceeded, and the time has come for the station to change into a new form."

As the town has recovered from the disaster, local station staff have started wanting to change jobs, and it has become difficult for the station to maintain the personnel it needs.

Other temporary disaster-response radio stations are also standing at a crossroads as the fifth anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami approaches. In Miyagi Prefecture a station for the city of Kesennuma is aiming to shift to a community station next fiscal year, while a station for the town of Yamato is looking to remain a disaster-response station for another year.


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