Victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake remembered in Britain
A look at some of the events to mark two years on from the disaster

On 11 March 2013, a ceremony of remembrance was held at the Embassy of Japan in London to mark two years after the Great East Japan Earthquake. Ambassador Keiichi Hayashi invited guests from the UK, including those who the Embassy wished to thank for their ongoing support for the people of Tohoku.

During the ceremony, the guests were first addressed by Ambassador Hayashi who outlined the progress Japan is making in the huge task of reconstruction, in the midst of the many challenges that remain. He cited the generous assitance Japan received from the UK and its many friends around the world as illustrating the importance of international cooperation and outlined the various ways in which Japan could work with the UK in tackling major global issues.

Ambassador Keiichi Hayashi

Mr Christopher Purvis
(former Chariman of the Japan Society)

Ms Ai Shimohama (TERP London)

The Ambassador's remarks were followed by presentations by Mr Christopher Purvis, CBE (a former chairman of the Japan Society) and Ms Ai Shimohama (Chair of the Tohoku Earthquake Relief Project (TERP) London).

Mr Purvis explained in detail about the Japan Society Tohoku Earthquake Relief Fund, also known as the Rose Fund, and its activities in disaster-stricken areas, and about his own personal experiences of talking to local people during his visit to the Tohoku region.

Ms Shimohama illustrated TERP’s programs which support various grassroots initiatives, including one involving a group of women in temporary housing who make fashion accessories from kimono that were recovered from the debris of the tsunami.

The presentations were followed by a beautiful performance by renowned violinist Taro Hakase. He performed Mi agete-goran Yoru no Hoshi wo (Look up at the Stars in the Sky) by Taku Izumi, and an original piece, Himawari (Sunflower) accompanied by his daughter. The guests then enjoyed the wonderful harmonies of the song Hana wa Saku (Flowers Will Bloom), a song that has often been sung in Japan in the aftermath of 11 March 2011, performed beautifully by the Green Chorus.

Taro Hakase with his daughter Himari Takata

Green Chorus

Earlier that day, a ceremony took place at the Fukushima Garden in Holland Park to unveil a plaque displaying a message from His Majesty the Emperor of Japan. The Deputy Leader of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Councillor Nicholas Paget-Brown, the Mayor of the Royal Borough, Councillor Christopher Buckmaster, and Ambassador Keiichi Hayashi joined members of the Japanese community for the ceremony at which the Ambassador read a message from His Majesty personally thanking the people of Britain for their assistance two years ago.

The Fukushima Garden in London’s Holland Park was designed and developed as an extension of the existing Kyoto Garden, which Their Majesties The Emperor and Empress of Japan visited in May of last year. The new garden was given its name because the aim of its creation was to recognise Japan’s appreciation for the support and assistance shown by the UK in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of March 2011, and is a symbol of hope for the swift recovery of Fukushima and the affected areas.

During the visit to the UK last year, His Majesty The Emperor addressed British people who helped Japan following the disaster of 11 March 2011 at a reception, and spoke of his deep appreciation for the support Japan had received. It is in the Fukushima garden that an extract from this speech was inscribed on a plaque and displayed for the many visitors to Holland Park to view, in order for the tragedy not to be forgotten and to serve as a symbol of Anglo-Japanese friendship. To read the message displayed on the plaque, click here.

Ambassador Hayashi with the Mayor of the Royal Borough of
Kensington and Chelsea, Councillor Christopher Buckmaster

The unveiled plaque at the Fukushima Garden, Holland Park

Various other events have been planned around the country as people gather to remember the victims of 11 March, showing their counterparts in Japan that they are not forgotten. The Embassy also continues to accept donations to support of relief efforts in North East Japan (click here for more information).

Until 29 March, the Embassy Foyer Gallery is host to an exhibition entitled ‘SPARE A THOUGHT FOR TOHOKU’. This exhibition is a visual commentary by artists and support volunteers who have worked in the stricken area with local people and an illustration of their wish to collaborate and help in the reconstruction efforts.