Today, Japan marks 10 years since the Great East Japan Earthquake. However, some of most affected areas still struggle to recover.

Downtown Onagawa before the disaster (July 2010).
Downtown Onagawa after the disaster (April 2011)

In 2018, we, the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Japan (SpCCJ), had an opportunity to meet people from the youth team of “Cobaltore Onagawa”, a football team of Onagawa, one of the most affected areas of tsunami. In the 3.11, some kids lost their families and friends and 7 years after the disaster, some of them were still suffering and struggling. After having a conversation with them, we decided to support them with a trip to Spain.

Not many people know but the first Japanese delegation led by Tsunenaga Hasekura left over 400 years ago the port Tsukiura, which is located within a stone’s throw from Onagawa. This Hasekawa delegation stayed over a long period of time in Coria del Rio, a small town in south of Spain, and approx. 650 of Coria’s 24,000 residents, as reported in 2003, use the surname Japón, identifying them as the descendants of the first Japanese official envoy to Spain. Since then, Coria del Rio continues having a strong relationship with Japan, especially Ishinomaki, Onagawa and Sendai area, and in 2013 the Japanese Prince Naruhito visited Coria del Rio to commemorate the 400 years of relationship between Spain and Japan.

The SpCCJ’s Charity auction to take the Cobaltore Onagawa to Spain was held during the SpCCJ 2018 Gala. The SpCCJ not only raise fund for the trip, but also provided various exciting opportunities for the Cobaltore boys such as coordination of a video message from a Japanese football star Takashi Inui, who at that time was playing in Real Betis, collaboration with LaLiga to invite the boys to the football match of Getafe CF where Gaku Shibasaki was playing, and organization of a clinic with the coaches of Real Betis and a meet & greet with Erina Yamane from Betis’s female team in Sevilla.

2 years has passed from that memorable trip to Spain. The boys kept contact with Japon sans from Coria del Rio, who visited Onagawa after and celebrated a Spanish flamenco night in this small town of north of Japan. Ms. Yamane also visited the Cobaltore while she was back in Japan during the off season. Also, the captain of the team back then, who scored a goal against Real Betis youth team, got scouted for the youth team of the Vegalta Sendai, one of the top teams in Japan.

We are very delighted that this trip became a start of new friendships and a big turning point for some boys.

3.11 東日本大震災から10年が経ちました。現在もなお、避難生活を余儀なくされている方々たちが5万人近くいるなど、まだ復興作業が続いています。






Author: SpCCJapan