On March 11, 2011, when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck, I was on the Tokaido Shinkansen bullet train. I was on my way from Kyoto to Tokyo. Fortunately, I was able to arrive in Tokyo safely. But how was I to return to Sendai, a city that was now cut off from the rest of Japan and had become an isolated "island" on the land? Having no way of going home, I kept phoning Sendai. When I did manage to get a connection to the University, the response I got was: "It is snowing and very cold in Sendai. Everyone has evacuated to the gymnasium." So, I rented 600 sets of Japanese futon mattresses and 2,000 blankets from a futon lease company, loaded them onto a four-ton truck, got on the truck, and brought the supplies to Sendai.
What awaited me when I arrived in Sendai were severe shortages of food and daily necessities. Distribution had nearly stopped entirely. Services had to be restored quickly. We needed to get back to a state of normalcy. To this end, I asked our faculties and students of Tohoku University come to work. With their own hands they cleaned up facilities, which were damaged by the earthquake. They also procured food. The coastal area of Miyagi Prefecture that sustained damages from the tsunami was in a worse situation.
Therefore, we dispatched a continuous stream of physicians from Tohoku University Hospital to the coastal area. Helping dispatched physicians, as well as the people who were engaged in the recovery efforts, adjust to their living in these areas was also an important job of ours. The first two weeks, many medical schools, hospitals, and related people all over Japan helped us by sending foods and supplies. Fortunately, supplies started pouring in from around the third week of the earthquake. These kinds of emergency situations oftentimes require us to make decisions with each passing moment, and I recall having to keep making such decisions time and time again. In two months, the total number of physicians we dispatched to the coastal area reached approximately 1,500.