Japan Earthquake & Tsunami area stuck with huge amount of unwanted donated items

Local government officials in the disaster-stricken Tohoku areas are struggling to deal with the excessive amount of donated items, many of which are stockpiled in school gymnasiums and other temporary storage facilities. Officials said many items, such as winter clothes, blankets and heaters, are no longer needed, but donations are still coming in.

On Wednesday, authorities in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, decided to organize bazaars to sell some of the excess items and donate others to different charities in an attempt to ease the backlog. Out of approximately 10,000 boxes of donated goods, about a third are not needed, including around 8,000 children’s knapsacks, officials said.

Similarly, a school in Ishinomaki received so many donated goods that officials were forced to decline further donations during Golden Week. After the March 11 disaster, a cold snap immediately followed, and that’s why so many gas heaters and winter clothing were sent. Although the weather is now warmer, authorities said that futons and blankets will be needed once temporary housing has been built, but until that time, the school gymnasium can’t hold any more items and there is a shortage of other storage locations in Ishinomaki.

A senior administrator said, “Items have been donated with the best of intentions, so we don’t want to let them go to waste, but the administrative challenge has been huge. There are still a lot of people in need in other areas, and we need to get some of these items to those people.”

In the town of Onagawa, a similar conclusion has resulted in the planned disposal of 8 tons of donated goods that are surplus to requirements. The town also plans to dispose of all future donations that are dirty or damaged. According to an Onagawa municipal official, “We have too many winter clothes. What evacuees need now are lighter clothes, washing detergent and other everyday items.”

He called for donors to keep their eyes on the news and to continue to provide appropriate aid to meet the changing needs of affected areas.

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