Immediately after the Great East Japan Earthquake, employees of Citizen Tohoku's Soma Works, located in Shinchicho, in Fukushima Prefecture's Soma District, received instructions to return home. Then the tsunami struck. While the Soma Works narrowly escaped being inundated by the tsunami, many employees' houses were damaged, and they were forced to live in evacuation centers.
Then-President of Citizen Tohoku, Haruo Kumagai, sent a message to employees affirming his belief that striving not to be overwhelmed by disaster, and working to restore the plant and to create a functioning workplace as soon as possible would in itself be a means of providing support for the disaster-struck region. This sentiment rallied the plant's employees in the wake of the disaster, and under conditions in which even reporting for work was difficult, they began to make efforts towards recovery.
In part as a result of the effectiveness of measures introduced prior to the Great East Japan Earthquake, the molds and important production machinery which are essential to the Soma Works' operations escaped serious damage. Particularly large production equipment such as press machines were fixed to the building's foundations and were thus almost undamaged, while completed and partially completed products on the same floor had only fallen over.
The plant was well provided with earthquake precautions targeting important equipment because of Citizen Tohoku's conviction that a massive earthquake with its epicenter in the ocean off Miyagi Prefecture would occur within a 30-year period. The Soma Works suffered significant damage in the Miyagi Earthquake in 1978, due, for example, to the fact that a large amount of goods and equipment fell from shelves. Following this experience, the plant was scrupulous in putting anti-earthquake measures into place in order to prevent molds and production equipment from falling or toppling. As a result, it was able to restart production less than two weeks after the earthquake.
As an issue for the future, the first order of business is the ability to effectively confirm the safety of employees and their families. To ensure that it is able to do so without fail, the Soma Works has decided to begin training in the use of a safety confirmation system which has already been introduced by 35 Citizen Group companies.
In the future, after identifying the issues brought into focus by the earthquake and tsunami disaster, Citizen Tohoku will proceed with the formulation of a business continuity plan (BCP) that foresees all potential disasters and unusual situations. Using the experience of the recent disaster, the company will realize a BCP that offers practical and effective guidance in all relevant areas from evacuation procedures to the procurement of equipment.
The Citizen Group is striving to aid the people affected by the earthquake and tsunami disaster and contribute to the recovery of the disaster-struck region. To this end, Citizen has provided relief funds totaling 100 million yen via the Japanese Red Cross Society, and Citizen Watch Co. of America, Inc. has donated 50,000 U.S. dollars through the American Red Cross. In addition, Group companies have mounted a variety of initiatives to help the victims of the disaster.
We held a table tennis event for children in Shinchicho, where the Citizen Tohoku Soma Works is located. Seeking to contribute to the region's recovery from the disaster, we invited five players from Division 1 of the Japan Table Tennis League to participate, under the slogan "You Can Do It Soma!"
Students from elementary and junior high schools in Fukushima and Miyagi Prefectures came together at the venue to trade shots with the League players, receive instruction, and watch rapid-fire demonstration matches.
We think that the event was a success in raising spirits in the region through the agency of sport.
The Citizen Group is providing support for ARTS for HOPE, an initiative that brings art programs to children in areas affected by the disaster, and the Iwate Mobile Library project being conducted by Shanti Volunteer Association, which seeks to offer a substitute for libraries which were destroyed along the Iwate coast by offering a mobile book lending service focusing on areas of temporary accommodation.
A call to Group employees saw us collect 30 boxes of art supplies, including paints, crayons and sketchbooks, and 2,077 near-new books, which have been donated to the organizations running the respective projects.
As an initiative to support people who lost their jobs as a result of the earthquake and tsunami disaster, since June 2011 Citizen Heiwa Watch Co., Ltd. has provided employment to a total of seven evacuees, seeking to provide them the psychological stability that comes with working.
Thanked by Katsunobu Sakurai, the mayor of Minami Soma in Fukushima Prefecture, for what he considered "A tremendous show of support," then-President of Citizen Heiwa Watch, Atsuo Kawaguchi, promised to continue to provide support for local employment. Citizen Watch Miyota Co., Ltd. is also providing employment for people from the affected areas.