Record-breaking rains have been wreaking havoc in central and southern Japan for a week now, and more torrential rain is forecast for the coming days.

We, at 350.org, express our sincere condolences to those who have lost their loved ones to this tragic event and hope that those still missing will be able to return to their families safe and sound. We also hope that the continuous rainfall won’t cause any more devastation to the affected communities in Japan.

Rescue efforts have become more difficult because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Emergency services are struggling to reach thousands of homes cut off by the floods and landslides, which have killed dozens and caused massive damage.

According to a doctor interviewed by public broadcaster NHK, “a special characteristic of this disaster was not people hesitating to evacuate, but people hesitating to offer help” because of their fear of getting infected by the virus.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: we’re still in a climate emergency. And that emergency interacts with the pandemic in frightening ways. If global leaders don’t act, vulnerable communities will keep facing the dual or even triple impacts of COVID-19: health risks and economic loss, alongside floods, landslides, cyclones, droughts, earthquakes.

These uncertain times highlight the fragility of systems we currently depend on, and much like the climate crisis, responding to its impacts requires a rapid and far-reaching shift in how we organize society if we are to emerge from this crisis to begin a better normal.

A Just Recovery means climate action should continue to be at the top of the global agenda as we emerge from COVID-19, so that our communities won’t be at risk of more crises even after COVID-19 is contained. Unprecedented disasters like what’s happening in Japan now reveal that adaptation to climate change is not enough – we need to mitigate the risk fast by defunding fossil fuels and investing in renewable energy, healthcare, and measures that work for regular people, not corporate executives. –Eri Watanabe, 350.org Japan Campaigner

Right now, we have an opportunity to voice our demands on what a Just Recovery should look like. Finance ministers from G20 countries like Japan are meeting next week to discuss how we recover from the coronavirus pandemic – and with the economy in freefall, we need them to put people first and invest in safe and sustainable jobs, healthcare, and a just recovery.

Add your voice

The current crisis has shown us that we cannot go back to business as usual. Structural inequities mean those who are economically disadvantaged are the most vulnerable to COVID-19 infection and the economic disruption that comes as a consequence of the pandemic. It’s time to act as a global community to prioritize care and resilience for all.

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