It is a year this Sunday that the Great East Earthquake struck Japan, and we would like to take this opportunity to extend our sympathies to all of those affected by the disaster. The tsunami and earthquake also caused unprecedented damage to the Japan’s national telecommunications infrastructure, making communications in the affected areas difficult during those first few weeks. As a company we worked tirelessly to restore these vital communication lifelines to enable those affected to connect to each other as soon as possible, implementing a number of emergency measures to make communications possible and rebuilding nearly all exchange buildings in affected areas by April 2011.

 

 

 

Emergency restoration at Iwaki Tomioka exchange office 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this series of blog posts, we’d like to take this opportunity to personally thank the 10,000 NTT employees who have been involved in helping rebuild the communications infrastructure in the affected areas, and to also present the personal stories of some of those involved.

The first post comes from Manabu Yoshimoto, Chief Officer, Disaster Countermeasures Office, NTT East Fukushima Branch, one of the closest branches to the damaged nuclear power station:

This disaster made me newly aware of why we exist and our duty to connect people

“I had never imagined that a nuclear accident and radiation leaks could occur, and so when I first heard about the accident, the thought crossed my mind that we would have to stop what we were doing. I felt strongly that we needed to do whatever we could to get organized and stave off that eventuality as the Disaster Countermeasures Office. The question of what we could do for the people working at the front line was on my mind all the time. Many evacuees had fled with only the barest necessities, and not knowing where others had gone, they were often plagued with the fear that they were on their own. I felt that if we were unable to connect such people to others, what was the point of us being there? I feel more keenly than ever now that we have to do whatever it takes to connect people, to get their words across to the other people who mean the most to them.

“Surrounding towns and villages were unable to connect for over a month, and local government employees couldn’t hide their exasperation, begging us to do something about the situation. I felt really sorry for our employees, since they were working flat out, and so when the Iwaki Tomioka Building (where the exchange is located) was rehabilitated and communications restored, and people called to thank us, it was very rewarding.

“What with radiation and other problems, the situation is not easy, but even if there are only one or two people involved, we have a duty to connect them. I think it is also my duty to protect the safety and health of our employees engaged in restoration work out in the field.”

 

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