On 12th March, the Memorial Service for the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami was held at the Canberra Nara Peace Park. Since 2011, this memorial service has been held annually to pay tribute to people who lost their lives in the disaster. The memorial service was attended by Mr Sumio Kusaka, Ambassador of Japan, Mr Peter Roberts, Assistant Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mr Roberts was working at the Australian Embassy in Tokyo at the time of the disaster), and representatives of co-organisers, Canberra Japan Club, Australia-Japan Society (ACT) Inc., and JET Program Alumni Association (JETAA) Canberra. Approximately 50 people attended the service.
In his remarks, Ambassador Kusaka reported the progress on reconstruction work, and expressed his gratitude to the people of Australia for their continuing support. In particular, the Ambassador praised the efforts of the Australia-Japan Society (ACT) Inc. and their successful Tohoku Youth Program, which invites children from devastated areas to experience home stay in Canberra. He also recommended the Tohoku region as a tourism destination and urged Australian people to visit the area on their next trip to Japan.
Dr Keiko Tamura, President of Canberra Japan Club, mentioned that remembering the people affected by the 2011 disaster is the most important. Through her impression of a recent visit to Miyagi Prefecture, she stressed that the continuous support from the countries around the world including Australia is much appreciated as it provides moral support.
While remembrance is crucial, Ms Dianne Fitzpatrick, President of Australia-Japan Society (ACT) Inc., looked to the future of furthering recovery efforts for the people affected by the disaster and continuing to work towards the improvement of the lives in affected regions. (Australia-Japan Society ACT Inc. has invited a total of 22 high school students who lost parents in the disaster to visit Canberra through the Tohoku Youth Program).
Ambassador Kusaka delivering the speech
The 5th Year Memorial Service for the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami
March 23, 2016