Western Japan – including the prefectures of Hiroshima, Okayama, Tottori, Kyoto, Hyogo, Gifu, Aichi and Kochi – has been on the receiving end of a perfect storm since early July: the rainy season, coupled with a typhoon, has led to record rainfall and widespread flooding in many areas. At the time of writing, over 125 people had lost their lives, with dozens still unaccounted for, and nearly two million people had been ordered to evacuate.
Rescue efforts are underway – although the bulk of the work will likely start when the floodwaters finally recede and the damage can be properly assessed. Here are some options if you're looking to help in the relief and recovery efforts, either by donating your time or money.
Considering the floodwaters have yet to recede in many places, making it quite a dangerous undertaking for non-trained rescuers, most large organisations are currently only accepting donations rather than volunteer help. In the coming few weeks, it's worth checking out the following organisations to see if they need more manpower.
Idro Japan: based in Kyoto, this immediate disaster relief and assistance NGO have stated that they will likely be accepting volunteers once the floodwaters recede.
It's Not Just Mud: originally started in response to the Tohoku disaster, INJM remains a good point of call for foreigners looking to volunteer. If they themselves are not onsite, they'll likely be able to point you in the direction of organisations that are.
Japanese Red Cross: contact your local chapter to see if they need any help.
Japan National Council of Social Welfare: has a list (in Japanese) of government organisations in the respective prefectures which are currently accepting volunteers.
There are quite a few organisations and private, local groups collecting donations, some of which are English-friendly too. This list is far from comprehensive, but it's a slice of the many fundraisers currently in effect. Donation is up to your own discretion.
English language options
Donation for western Japan heavy rain: started by Rakuten, donations possible by Rakuten Points, credit card or bank transfer. The intended recipients of the proceeds have yet to be made public.
Western Japan heavy rain disaster relief donations: the Mainichi Shimbun has also started collecting donations in Japanese yen, which have to be made by bank transfer or cash through registered mail. Details listed on their website.
Emergency Response: Flooding in Western Japan: Peace Boat Disaster Relief Volunteer Center, part of the NGO Peace Boat, is accepting donations via credit card or bank transfer. They are liaising with local agencies to assess what needs to happen before setting up a relief effort themselves.
Japanese language options
AAR Japan: the Association for Aid and Relief Japan have sent emergency response teams to the affected areas. You can donate to their efforts via credit card or bank transfer, details on website.
Yahoo! Japan: Yahoo is collecting donations which will be sent directly to the relevant municipal governments. You'll need a Yahoo ID to donate.
Open Japan KEEN Matching Pay: Open Japan has teamed up with KEEN footwear to match all donations for a month. They have volunteers on ground already.
Janic: If you're looking to make sense of it all, Janic (Japan NGO Center for International Cooperation) has a comprehensive list of organisations, including Save the Children and Plan International, which are collecting funds, complete with information on where the donations will go to.