Project area:Kamaishi City, Morioka City (Iwate Prefecture)

Interview: Makoto SUGAWARA / Hiroyasu SASAKI/AD BOAT PROJECT
“Recovery support boat.” Just as the Formula 1, sales from selling advertisements whose company’s logo will be labeled on boats will go directly to the purchase of fishing boats. As an exchange of their financial contribution, the ad illustrates the message to thank for their action; while the boats themselves become the direct means for the fishermen. At the website that is currently under construction, the project is aiming to develop the best and useful communication system between supporters and fishermen to raise the funding to get their work place (=fishing boats) back. Their goal for the website is to create a sustainable business model so that the effort to raise the fund to help can last as long as needed.

Overcoming together
until everyone's boat is restored

In January 2012, there was only one fishing boat floating at the port of Oozakishirahama in Kamaishi City. On the blue and white hull is written the boat's eye-catching name "Ryoyumaru", the new boat of Hiroyasu Sasaki. The first "AD BOAT" supported by the "AD BOAT PROJECT", an initiative gathering supporters who have their company logos placed on the hulls of boats they support, was completed at the end of October in 2011. Sasaki's "Ryoyumaru" is the second boat of this initiative. On this the fifth day since fishing recommenced, the expression on the face of Sasaki was beaming, incomparable to that of six months before.

"Around the time of July, we were in a situation where there were neither newly-built nor second-hand ships available. I passed through Aomori countless times before finding someone who was willing to part with this boat. Repairs finally came to a finish on December 28th, and first of all I started my father's gill net fishing. Two days after bringing in a haul, I had the strong motivation to put in more effort from there on. I was relieved to get the boat, but I still have to pull up the fishing gear which sunk offshore. I have mixed feelings of expectation and uncertainty".

On this day, only the "Ryoyumaru" was anchored at Oozakishirahama port. The current situation is such that those waiting for new ships don't even know when they can expect them to be completed. Using restored fishing boats, and while cooperating together to work on the cultivations, it will take one to two years before the first shipments can begin. There is still no change in the situation where many still face an unclear future.

"Directly after the disaster, there were no boats left in the port, and I truly wondered if I could continue as a fisherman, fearing the sea at the bottom of my heart. However, I had no sense of giving up as a fisherman. I have managed to buy a boat and restart fishing, but my fellow colleagues are still in the position of waiting for boats. I feel strongly that until everyone's boats are restored, I and my fellow fishermen of the port will overcome the disaster together, going on to restore it and give it even more vitality than before".

Sasaki carries out his work together with his father on the deck of the "Ryoyumaru". And by his side is the figure of his young son who is also helping out. In the same way that Sasaki aimed to become a fisherman while watching from behind his father, his son is also watching his father roused to action. In ten years' time, when there are numerous AD BOATs floating at the port, it will be his generation which continue to ride the boats.


If regeneration support from today
cannot be enjoyed by everyone, then it won't continue

The "International Fashion Fair" is Japan's biggest exhibition, with over 20,000 visitors. In a section of the venue, an "AD BOAT PROJECT" booth can be found with the raised flag of a fishing boat. Six months after Sugawara started this activity, there are already four "AD BOATs" which have received support from companies, but there remain many fishermen who need support. In order that more people may get to know about the project, he continues to convey information. Now more than ever, there are fishermen applying to join, but the path to reach this point was far from easy.

"At any rate, there is no precedent for this project, so at first the biggest task was to gain the understanding of the fishermen. Even if we approach businesses and manage to gather money, if the fishermen aren't satisfied then it will be meaningless. Fishermen don't say what they really think at first, so I tried to meet and communicate with them on a daily basis. After slowly shortening the distance between us, I found that they strongly objected to having company logos on their boats. They thought, "getting money for making our boats look cool; there's no chance of that". But one of the fishermen consulted us about the AD BOAT PROJECT making a boat for him, and the first boat was then completed. Following that, the fishermen who had expressed disapproval said how great it looked. With their approval, I contacted someone I knew in the fashion world. If you have an example to show, the actual structure of support becomes visible, and it becomes easier to give support".

Sugawara has stuck to "a visible structure of support". And in managing to get four AD BOATS into the sea in only six months, it goes to show that many people sought to give their support to an initiative like this.

"In actual fact, directly after the earthquake I was entrusted with support funds from an overseas company directly after the disaster. I donated this to the International Red Cross and the prefecture, but six months on when the company contacted me to ask how the money was used, I wasn't able to answer. That was very frustrating. I think there are many people within Japan who have the feeling they want to support Tohoku, but they are in the situation where they don't know how to go about doing it. At that time, I wanted to create a system where it would be possible to clearly say "everyone's donations have been used in this way". From now on, if the results of long-term regeneration support are not made more visible and enjoyed by everyone, then they won't continue".

(Date of interview: 18th January, 2012/Shiogama City, Iwate Prefecture, 25th January, 2012/Tokyo area)
Photo : Takeshi HOSOKAWA





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Makoto SUGAWARA / Hiroyasu SASAKI


2-2-12, Odori, Morioka, Iwate Prefecture

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