Comment on Telephone Counseling for Victims of the Tohoku-Pacific Ocean Earthquake
Eleven days have passed since the Tohoku-Pacific Ocean Earthquake struck Japan. The confirmed death toll has surpassed 8,000 and the enormous scale of damage from this earthquake is only now becoming apparent. More than 12,000 people are still missing while 310,000 people are sheltered in evacuation centers. We express our deep mourning to those who lost their lives in this disaster and heartfelt sympathy to the victims who are still suffering difficult conditions. We also express our respects to the government and other organizations concerned for their tireless efforts to bring relief to the victims.
As activities for restoration and recovery are progressing, a multitude of legal issues will arise from this disaster and it is expected that the need for legal counseling will surge. Since the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) has developed a system to provide disaster legal counseling across the country. The JFBA will provide free legal counseling mainly for those who have been affected by this earthquake in addition to calling for the drafting of necessary legislation and for the appropriate administration of extant laws and regulations in order to support the victims.
As a first step, the JFBA, in cooperation with three bar associations in Tokyo (the Tokyo Bar Association, Dai-ichi Tokyo Bar Association, and Daini Tokyo Bar Association) and the Japan Legal Support Center, will provide free legal counseling for the victims of this disaster through telephones set up in the Bar Associations Building in Tokyo, starting on March 23, 2011. The JFBA will also provide face-to-face legal counseling services for free in the districts affected by the earthquake in cooperation with local bar associations there depending on the progress of recovery. This is especially necessary as the districts hit by this earthquake contain many areas suffering from shortages of attorneys. The JFBA, mainly through Himawari Fund Law Offices (bar-funded law offices), will put forward its utmost efforts to provide a sufficient level of legal assistance for the victims in these areas.
The JFBA hopes the damaged areas and the people affected will be able to begin the process of restoration and recovery as soon as possible. We at the JFBA will organize a system in which all JFBA members support the local bar associations in the affected areas and devote ourselves to providing all possible legal assistance for the victims.
March 22, 2011
Japan Federation of Bar Associations