One year ago Dallas’ Friendship City of Sendai, Japan, was counting the hundreds who were dead or missing. A ferocious earthquake and tsunami had demolished neighborhoods and swept away lives.
KERA broadcast letters from the people of Sendai as they struggled to recover. Today they’ve sent messages of thanks to North Texas through the Japan-America Society of Dallas/Fort Worth. Tami Ishii joins KERA’s Shelley Kofler for this report.
Memezawa/April 2011: The tremors seemed to go on and on. The telephones and cell phones did not work.
In her letters after the earthquake correspondent Noriko Memezawa remembered climbing through debris in the dark to reach her family in Sendai; waiting in long lines to buy what little food was left; worrying about radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant about 50 miles away.
Memezawa/April 2011: They are still battling the disaster at the nuclear power plant. There are still huge piles of problems to be dealt with, such as the damage to the marine industries caused by the radioactive water dumped into the ocean.
Today, radiation has forced the evacuation of a 100-square mile area around the plant and testing has found dangerous amounts of cesium in some of the country’s rice crop. To calm fears the City of Sendai’s website includes data showing safe levels of radiation there.
As Japan copes with 300,000 Japanese still in temporary housing and more than 2,000 children who lost parents Memezawa now sends her thanks and a request.
Memezawa: Thank you so much for the various support after the Great East Japan Earthquake. Please keep the devastated areas in mind and think of them sometimes. Your thoughts will be greatly appreciated.
Others write about how the earthquake reordered their priorities.
Tomomi Takahashi owns a stationary store in Sendai.
Takahashi: When I think of the ones who I can never see again, these two regrets hit me so hard: I should have said thank you and I wish I had apologized properly. So from now on I am going to make sure I express these two things since I survived that day and will continue to live.
Kentaro Hosokawa is a hairstylist from nearby Furukawa.
Hosokawa: We were reminded by the earthquake to help each other which we had almost forgotten in this modern society. Japan will keep moving forward to make this world such a place we can proudly pass on to our children, working extra hard for those who lost their lives.
Mayumi Judo works with UNESCO in Shibata near Sendai.
Judo: Even people in far away places all over the world gave us a lot of support which I feel grateful for.
But with the cost of reconstruction estimated at $300 billion, another UNESCO worker, Akiko Nakada writes this:
Nakada: The kind of support that Japan really needs is money. An enormous amount of money is needed.
In Sendai alone the city has a 50-year reconstruction plan to repurpose farmland swamped by salty seawater; construct new more disaster-proof roads and buildings; and rebuild lives by providing jobs, housing, and hope.
Letters From Sendai To North Texas
On Anniversary Of Earthquake
One year will have passed soon since the earthquake on March 11. Over the past year, Japan and the Japanese people had to face the reality that we had pretended not to see, and then I think we have realized what is truly important, which is the connection with others. In other words, we are not alone. We were reminded by the earthquake to help each other, which we had almost forgotten in this modern society. Japan will keep moving forward to make this world such a place we can proudly pass on to our children, working extra hard for those who lost their lives. I believe that will be the real recovery.
Kentaro Hosokawa, Hairstylist, Furukawa near Sendai
I would like to convey “thank you” and “I am sorry.” When I think of the ones who I can never see again, these two regrets hit me so hard: “I should have said thank you" and "I wish I had apologized properly." So from now on, I am going to make sure I express these two things, since I survived that day and will continue to live.
Tomomi Takahashi, Owner of Stationary Store, Sendai
I am so grateful for the warm support from all over the world. Thank you so much. I will work hard toward the restoration with hope.
Yuka Saito, Office Worker, Sendai
Thank you so much for the various support after the Great East Japan Earthquake. Please keep the devastated areas in mind and think of them sometimes. Your thoughts will be greatly appreciated.
Noriko Memezawa, Miyagi University of Education, Sendai
Let’s keep the “honest feeling” we had at that time. "One world." Sadly it was the greatest tragedy that got us to think of it. However, what is more important is that we will never forget it. I would like to shout out again: “one world!"
Kazuya Hatakeyama, Miyagi University of Education, Sendai
I recently read in a Japanese newspaper about an American city which made an excellent recovery from a hurricane attack. According to the paper, the power of the community and the power of young entrepreneurs played key roles in the restoration. Sendai would also like to rebuild with grass-roots effort. I would appreciate your support.
Miu Yamanouchi, Office Worker, Natori near Sendai
You have a home, food, and friends to laugh and chat with, and maybe you go to school or work like it's nothing special. Then one day they all disappear suddenly. The earthquake on March 11 made me realize that such ordinary things are so precious. Also, even people in far away places all over the world gave us a lot of support which I feel grateful for. I would like to cherish everyday life, people around me and the connection with others.
Mayumi Kudo, Asia-Cultural Centre for UNESCO, Shibata near Sendai
As the first anniversary of March 11, 2011 approaches, here are a few things that I would like the people in world to know:
Never forget it.
I became strongly aware that it is important to keep in mind and be grateful that we exist by grace of nature.
I really appreciate the various support we received from all over Japan and the world.
The kind of support that Japan really needs is money. An enormous amount of money is needed.
Akiko Nakada, Asia-Cultural Centre for UNESCO, Sendai