A three-person emergency response team is being deployed today by Japan IsraAID Support Program (JISP), the Japanese branch of IsraAID: Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid, to the Okayama prefecture in western Japan where the heaviest rainfall in decades has caused flooding, landslides and loss of life.

More than 95 fatalities have been reported, dozens are missing and two million people displaced from their homes. The JISP team will distribute urgent relief items, assess immediate medical and post-trauma psychosocial needs and provide psychological first aid and mental-health support to evacuees.

Yotam Polizer, IsraAID’s co-CEO, explains that an IsraAID team arrived in Japan four days after the 2011 tsunami and is still there today providing post-trauma capacity-building, psychosocial and mental-health support and leadership training for youth.

In 2013, IsraAID established JISP, which is led by Tohoku-based disaster professionals. JISP has responded in partnership with IsraAID to earthquakes and flooding in southern Japan and Nepal, and supported IsraAID’s refugee programs in Kenya, with significant funding from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“JISP’s emergency responders arriving in Okayama tonight are all Japanese professionals from the area affected by the 2011 tsunami,” Polizer tells ISRAEL21c. “They have been to Israel and received training and support for the past seven years. Our goal was to have the local capacity to respond. It’s sad to test it in these circumstances but we are glad to have this capacity.”

Polizer added that “the Japanese people are some of the most resilient and inspiring people we have ever worked with. We are proud of our Japanese team and will continue to support the affected communities as long as needed.”

While search and rescue efforts continue, the rain is still causing extensive damage across large areas of Japan. Polizer said additional responders will be sent to supplement the JISP team if necessary.