The photo cleaning operations were making significant progress and in areas such as Yuriage, we introduced volunteers from other areas to assist with photo cleaning and working through albums that had been left untouched. However, the problem arose as to how we could successfully return the photographs to their original owners; additionally, we needed to find space to store them. Many of the buildings where photographs and albums were being cleaned and stored had suffered significant damage in the earthquake, which resulted in them being unsafe storage locations. Workshops had also been set up temporarily in school gymnasiums, and would have to be cleared when the students returned. Similar problems began to arise in many locations.
We needed to find a solution: we wanted to be able to present the photographs to anyone who came to visit, yet we were faced with limited time and space. In the face of such a dilemma, we started scanning and digitally archiving the photographs. Until then, the photographs had been stored a long distance from where their owners were now living and so volunteers had to take the photographs to temporary housing complexes in search of their owners. However once the scanning had been completed, we could store, access and easily carry the images on laptops or iPads, but that didn't meant that we could simply discard the physical prints. Instead, we used the scanned images to accelerate the process of returning the photographs to their owners. Above all, we had to remember the importance of the physical photographs.
In the wake of the earthquake, the Self Defense Forces did not pick up USB flash-drives or CD-Rs, instead they retrieved photo albums. Having seen the mud-covered albums that the officers had gathered, volunteers — without any instruction — had begun to clean them. Above all, people had searched for their photographs and albums immediately after the disaster.
Knowing the fact that people were trying to salvage photographs, we were impelled to reconsider, with renewed enthusiasm, the mission of Fujifilm.