Japan Society of Fairfield County
Tohoku Earthquake, One Year After

      With the one year anniversary of the twin disasters, the strongest earthquake in Japan’s recent history and the subsequent tsunami, in Japan’s Tohoku region upon us, the Japan Society of Fairfield County hosted an event on March 3rd, 2012 in the Wilton Town Library. The venue provided an opportunity to thank many supporters who helped the Society raise a significant amount of money that was relayed to the Japanese Red Cross. At the event two quite insightful talks provided an excellent review of what happened and how the Japanese government and society have responded to the at times insurmountable challenges. 
     Dr. Yoko Kawai Kurimoto from the Society’s board compared last year’s events with the aftermath of the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 and highlighted similarities how the Japanese responded to the challenges and the outpouring of support in both cases.
    Dr Jun Saito, assistant professor of political science at Yale University, has reviewed the Japanese government’s swift and comprehensive response to the earthquake and drew a contrast to its dealings with the radiation fallout in Fukushima. Dr. Saito’s analysis of the aftermath of the twin disasters outlined choices for the future and how to improve not only the management of disaster relief efforts but also to develop an energy sourcing strategy as well as community planning.
    Mr. Yasuhisa Kawamura, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Consulate General Japan in New York, has thanked in the name of the government and the Japanese people for the massive outpouring of international support, especially the US government and the American people. He then shared with the audience a heartwarming video in which ordinary victims of the disaster extend their “arigatou” to the world. Mr. Kawamura presented the most recent data from Japan that clearly indicates that the Japanese economy is back on track regaining its growth trajectory and the roadmap for the radiation cleanup in the next 30 years. Mr. Kawamura’s words assured that Japan is once again well positioned to play its important role in the global community of nations. Mr. Kawamura distributed wrist bands with Japanese thank you signs as a symbolic gesture of gratitude.
    The lively Q&A session touched upon several issues including Japan’s future energy sourcing strategy, nuclear waste management and novel ideas regarding community planning in Japan’s aging population centers.
    The event concluded with a performance by the world famous Koto player Masayo Ishigure. She played on the traditional musical instrument quintessential classic Japanese tunes as well as contemporary compositions highlighting the adaptation of this uniquely Japanese instrument to modern times. The pieces performed were: The Sakura Variations (arr by Tadao Sawai), Chidori  no Kyoku (by Kengyo Yoshizawa), and Flying like a Bird (by Tadao Sawai). The Society’s president, Dr. Vernon Beck, thanked all participants for attending as well as extending their support to Japan in his closing remarks.

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