178 Peruvians being searched for in Japan’s quake and tsunami areas


By Jorge Riveros-Cayo

178 Peruvians living in areas struck by Japan's quake and tsunami are being searched
Japanese refugess in the Miyagi prefecture. (Photo: Reuters)

One hundred seventy eight Peruvians lived in the Japanese prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, located in the Tōhoku region, the most affected area struck by last Friday’s earthquake and tsunami in the northeastern area of HonshÅ« island, in Japan.

The information was obtained by a local firm used often by Peruvians to sends remittances back to Peru, according to El Comercio. The name of the firm was not disclosed.

“Our clients have to register in our firm with updated information as it appears in their residence ID. Hence the information in our list is, at most, two years old,” explained a speaker of the firm. “But regardless of the amount of people that have recently sent remittances to Peru, that doesn’t mean they still live in the same place, because the transfers can be done from any ATM across the country.”

There are around 60 thousand Peruvians living in Japan that send a considerable amount of money back to their families in Peru.

Peruvians that used to live in the areas affected by the quake and tsunami could have migrated months ago to other parts of Japan due to the economic crisis.

“Many foreigners have migrated to southern Japan, where there are more job opportunities. It is quite improbable that those who stayed lived on the coastal strip,” said the speaker whose name was not disclosed either.

El Comercio dialed unsuccessfully around 40 telephone numbers of Peruvian residents in Japan; many of these were out of service. They finally got in touch with Angélica Fujii, a Peruvian woman living in Fukushima 20 years ago.

“The earthquake was so intense, it felt so strong. I learned about the tsunami through television because I live far away from the coast. There aren’t many Peruvians or Latin Americans around here. And I don’t know of any Peruvian casualties either,” she said.

“I’m a bit scared now about the nuclear plant explosion, but if the authorities claim that the situation is under control, then it should be. If there was the need to evacuate, I would go to my family’s house in Shiga, down south, because it would be extremely difficult to return to Peru. I have a life here,” said Fujii.

Through a series of phones calls made by El Comercio to other Peruvian residents, as well as restaurants, stores, sports clubs and Peruvian religious brotherhoods in Japan, they have established that “there are no Peruvian casualties reported so far, but surely there was a considerable amount of Peruvians in the area hit by the tsunami.”