13 Mars 2017
Support for survivors of the March 2011 disaster used to focus on donations and volunteering, but recent some projects have injected business know-how into that equation and it's paying off.
Fishermen in Koriyama City such as Sumiyuki Kumada say sales have fallen steadily since the 2011 disaster.
"Fukushima carp used to be the best-known and fetch the highest prices. But now they are the cheapest. We won't be able to survive unless we get back the brand power we once had," Kumada says.
City officials decided it was time to get outside help, and they teamed up with businesses from around Japan to promote the freshwater fish.
One of the companies taking part is a leading beer-maker. They assembled a carp promotion team that's developing dishes that go well with beer and they're supplying the recipes to restaurants in Fukushima.
"In this project, we are helping to reinvigorate carp farming while trying to raise our brand value," says Masaya Hayashida, an official at Kirin.
Carp farms aren't the only breeding grounds for business in the region. Doctors at one clinic are using a new system to access patients' medical records that's loaded on tablet computers. A quick tap brings up information on 4,000 patients anytime, anywhere.
The system was developed by office equipment-maker Fuji Xerox. Until recently, they had little experience in the medical field. It all started when the company donated copy machines to hospitals. Staff heard about a challenge facing doctors in the disaster-hit communities.
Many patients lost their homes in the disaster -- and are still living in temporary housing.
"I visited elderly people but I didn't have access to their blood test results, clinical history and so on. That made me less confident about my diagnoses," says Dr. Akira Kamimura.
The office equipment-maker used its software knowhow to come up with a solution. It gives doctors Internet access to their patients' medical records whenever and wherever they need it.
"The system allows me to do my job accurately and helps me save time. It has become indispensable for me," Kamimura says.
Other medical institutions have adopted the system, generating contracts worth 5.3 million dollars for the company.
"Our interactions with people from disaster stricken areas helped us come up with new ideas, and led to more business," says Kunishi Higuchi, an official at Fuji Xerox.
It's an unlikely partnership, but it paid off for both the community and the company.