Japan

Japan's 2011 Disaster - 5th Anniversary

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Singapore, 2 March 2016 – At the launch of its 5th anniversary Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami photo exhibition today, the Singapore Red Cross (SRC) announced the concluding disbursement of the S$35.7M Japan Disaster Fund to six rehabilitation projects worth S$4M (~300 million yen), targeted at education, childcare and public welfare (details in Annex A).

This came on the back of four major rebuilding projects (delivered between 2011 and 2015) from which savings were accrued to support the latest wide-ranging rehabilitation projects. In all, Singapore’s contributions have aided residents in Minamisanriku, Shichigahama, Rikuzentakata, Miyako and Soma across Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures.

Noting this as one of Singapore’s largest ever disaster relief contributions to a single country, Guest-of-Honour Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs said at the exhibition launch, “I am heartened that the Singapore Red Cross’ rebuilding projects have been welcomed by the local communities. I am also glad that in a small way, our contributions have helped rebuild lives and renew the hope of our Japanese friends.This adds a significant dimension to our 50 years of Japan-Singapore relations.”

“In addition to the swift and effective emergency aid in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, the Singapore Red Cross also initiated the major project to build four centers in the devastated Tōhoku region. All four centers have now been opened and are serving well the needs of the community, This year, the Singapore Red Cross has initiated a new set of programs to address the changing needs of the Tohoku region. I welcome the initiative as it will further strengthen the people-to-people ties between Singapore and Japan. We, the Japanese people will always remain grateful for your support and compassion at the time of difficulty,” said His Excellency Haruhisa Takeuchi, Ambassador of Japan to Singapore.

“We were conscious of our responsibility to ensure that the funds entrusted to us were translated to tangible and sustainable outcomes. We were deliberate in engaging the local communities to identify and deliver projects that meet needs and have lasting impact. This was our way of making most meaningful use of the donations. The rebuilding projects may be “bricks and mortar”, but they mean a lot more to the survivors than we may ever comprehend,” shared Singapore Red Cross’ Chairman Tee Tua Ba.

A collaboration between the SRC and Republic Polytechnic’s School of Management and Communication, The Strength of the Human Spirit photo exhibition (details in Annex B) showcases a collection of videos and photographs chronicling survivor stories five years after the massive earthquake left cities in rubble. From donors’ magnanimity to survivors’ courage, the stories of strength were documented by nine Republic Polytechnic youth who visited facilities funded by donors through the SRC.

“We are glad to collaborate with Republic Polytechnic’s talented students and lecturers to tell this story of solidarity and resilience. The pictures tell a much deeper story of the gamut of emotions our Japanese friends experience in standing tall in the face of adversity,” Mr Tee added.

Mr Warren Wang, Director of Republic Polytechnic’s School of Management and Communication, said, “The partnership with the Singapore Red Cross has provided a unique opportunity for our students from the Diploma in Mass Communication to work on an industry project from start to finish – from creation of the story, writing, photography and videography, to curation of the exhibition and publicity through digital media. The students not only gained significant industry-relevant skills from this partnership, but also appreciated valuable life lessons outside of the classroom. We look forward to more of such collaborations with Red Cross in the future”.

Immediately after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the SRC launched a fundraising appeal which raised S$35.7 million from the People of Singapore. Last year, the SRC handed over the last of four major rebuilding projects, the Multi-Purpose Community Hall in Rikuzentakata which serves more than 20,000 residents of the city.

Annex A

Miyako Athletic Field in Miyako, Iwate Prefecture

Total Project Cost: 100,000,000 JPY

The new Miyako Sports Park (about 15.2 hectares in size) is not only a base for sports activities, but also a city park for relaxation and refreshment for the city people. The Miyako Athletic Field will be equipped with key facilities and infrastructure that will enable the precinct to hold Prefectural and City levels competitions.

Singapore-Rikuzentakata Scholarship Fund in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture

Total Project Cost: 40,000,000 JPY

The scholarship fund is set up to provide opportunity for underprivileged high school graduate students to enrol in a 4-year university course outside this city. The fund will assist a total of fifteen students, and up to three students for each year. Each student will receive JPY 50,000 per month for 4 years (48 months) as tuition or housing rental costs at the campus. The students should come from low-income family background; should achieve an academic grade of 4.5 out of 5.0 for their high school results; must be proficient in the English Language.

Rikuzentakata City Library in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture

Total Project Cost: 66,000,000 JPY

This project will focus on equipping the library with advanced automated book registration system and 1000 or more books for adults and children. There will also be more space available for people using the library.

Minamisanriku Town Library in Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture

Total Project Cost: 40,000,000 JPY

This project will focus on equipping the library with advanced automated book registration system and 1000 or more books for adults and children. There will also be more space available for people using the library.

Shichigahama Hamagiku Children’s Center in Shichigahama, Miyagi Prefecture

Total Project Cost: 46,450,000 JPY

Named as Shichigahama Hamagiku Children’s Center, the new center will provide a safe and nurturing place for up to 80 elementary aged children, from Grades 1 to 6, to play and spend time after school.

Soma City Psychosocial Support in Schools in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture

Total Project Cost: 40,000,000 JPY

This project will provide psychosocial support to Elementary and Junior school students in Soma city (approximately a total of 3,000 students) and their family members who were affected emotionally by the 2011 tsunami, over a period of four years.

Annex B

The Strength of the Human Spirit A Photo Exhibition by the Singapore Red Cross

On 11 March 2011, a massive earthquake tore through Japan’s north-eastern coast, triggering a tsunami up to an estimated 40 metres high, which travelled up to 10 kilometres inland. The people were left with their loved ones missing, homes destroyed and cities in rubble.

Five years on, Singapore Red Cross presents a commemorative photo exhibition telling untold stories that bear testimony to the courage of our Japanese friends in standing tall in the face of adversity. The exhibition pays tribute to the strength and magnanimity of the human spirit – from the resilience of the survivors to the compassion of the donor community. It also honours the friendship and close ties between the People of Singapore and Japan.

Exhibition dates (Free admission):

ION Orchard (Basement 4): 2 Mar - 6 Mar

Vivocity (East Court): 8 Mar - 13 Mar

Westgate (Courtyard): 15 Mar - 27 Mar

Star Vista (Atrium): 1 - 3 Apr