The first Anniversary of the Tsunami in Japan: An Israeli Perspective


Lt. Col. Dr. Amit Assa, Yuki Satu and her baby.

— by Meir Deutsch

“Yediot Aharonot” reports that Yama Yamauchi was three months pregnant when the Tsunami hit Japan on March 11, 2011. The family, parents and their 13 years old son Yakito, stayed for a week in a camp put up in the local Stadium. Mrs. Yamauchi was concerned about the baby she was carrying, as the local hospital was destroyed. She had no idea of the baby’s condition. “Then the Angels came to our house” she smiles, remembering the medical team that came to town with the IDF delegation. “The Israeli doctor said that on the ultrasound we see the baby waving his hand. It was a relief. I feel much obliged to Israel for that.”

More after the jump.


Pictured (left to right): Mora Tomoku, Lt. Iris Badrak, Lt. Col. Dr. Amit Assa.

Israel, as always, sent aid, and was the first foreign country that on March 27, 2011 sent a medical team to the Tsunami stricken area, and established a field hospital in Minami Sanriku. “The help that Israel sent was a turning point in the relations between the two countries” said the Japanese congressman and Senior Vice Defense Minister Kazuya Shimba. “Many Japanese were deeply impressed by the efficiency of the Israel Defense Force’s Doctors, and their ability of Crisis Management. We learned a lot from you” said Shimba who was an exchange student at the Tel-Aviv University and also attended the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. It is now a year since Israel opened its Hospital, and it is still operating.

The newspaper “Yediot Aharonot” reports that at the reception for foreign diplomats, marking the anniversary of the Tsunami, by the Japanese Foreign Minister in Tokyo, just one story was pointed out — the Israeli team in Minami Sanriku. The Iranian Ambassador, reports the newspaper, felt uneasy as pictures of the Israeli team in IDF uniforms were shown on the screen.

Yuki Satu, 24, a new mother staying at an aid population center in Minamisanriku, gave birth to a girl six weeks ago by a Cesarean section. Due to the tsunami, Yuki had been unable to go to a gynecologist for a follow-up examination for the six weeks since she had given birth.

When Yuki heard about the Israeli medical aid delegation from friends in the population center and from media reports, she and her baby showed up at the IDF medical clinic.

She was examined by Lt. Col. Mishe Pincrat, a gynecologist with the IDF delegation who found Yuki to be in good and stable condition. After which, the baby was examined by Lt. Col. Dr. Amit Assa, a pediatrician from the delegation who concluded the baby to be healthy and in a general good condition.

Yuki, who deeply thanked the Israeli staff, and her baby were accompanied throughout the medical
examination by Mora Tomoku, a local midwife who looks after all the pregnant women in the
Minamisanriku area. Mora checks up on the women by visiting each individual woman’s home along with the gynecologist and midwife of the IDF aid delegation.

Since the arriving to Japan, the delegation doctors have treated 18 new mothers in follow-up
examinations.