Examining Japan "One Year Later"

Marking the anniversary of the most devastating natural disaster to strike Japan in 140 years, Japan Society presents One Year Later: Commemorating the One-Year Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, a program that commemorates the victims of the disasters and examines the recovery process and the tremendous challenges that remain, takes place March 6 through 20. 

The centerpiece of One Year Later is A Day of Reflection and Contemplation on Sunday, March 11. Japan Society plans a full day with activities for children and families, film screenings, and a photo exhibit. From 11:00 am until 8:00 pm, children have the opportunity to decorate dolls to be sent to Tohoku, the region in Japan devastated by the tsunami. In addition, visitors can respond to art produced by children in the disaster zones, and share well wishes with people in Tohoku. The afternoon features three documentary films that vividly portray life in Tohoku after the earthquake and the compelling and ongoing road to recovery, including The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, recently nominated for an Academy Award. Ambassador Shigeyuki Hiroki makes remarks at 2:30 pm, and at 2:46 pm presides over a moment of silence for the lives lost in the disasters.

Japan Society, NYC, tsunami, earthquake, nuclear crisis
Motoatsu Sakurai, President of Japan Society. Photo © Ken Levinson.

During A Day of Refection and Contemplation visitors also can view the exhibit Memory: Things We Should Never Forget, featuring 47 photos of the region by the Nikkei, one of Japan’s largest newspapers, illustrating both the initial devastation and gradual rebuilding.

Before and after the anniversary, a series of panel discussions analyzes Japan’s path forward from an insider’s perspective.  On March 6, senior executives from Nomura, Hitachi, Toyota, and the Japan External Trade organization examine economic and policy issues around recovery in the region, and the larger impact on Japanese and world economies. On March 13, leaders of NGOs that have been working relief, recovery and reconstruction on the ground in Tohoku share perspectives on the current situation and the work that lies ahead. Organizations represented include JEN, ETIC, and Archi Aid.

On March 12, a group of renowned American and Japanese playwrights discuss short plays and songs they wrote in reaction to the disasters to raise awareness about continuing needs in Japan. The panel follows the March 11 SHINSAI: Theaters for Japan series of live performances in New York City and around the nation.

One Year Later concludes on March 20 with a webinar for educators (open to the public) regarding how to teach about 3.11 and its aftermath.

“The One Year Later series brings to light the enormity of the situation still unfolding in Japan and memorializes the great losses Japan suffered,” Motoatsu Sakurai, president of Japan Society says. “With programming related to the disasters and continued work through the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund, Japan Society is committed to providing support over the long term.”



Exhibition – Memory: Things We Should Never Forget
February 24 through May 27

Memory: Things We Should Never Forget is an exhibition of 47 photos taken in the Tohoku region of Japan by the photo department of Japan’s largest business and economy newspaper the Nikkei (comparable to America’s Wall Street Journal) in the immediate aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and during the ongoing recovery. “Before and after” pairings vividly illustrate the human tragedy of the natural disaster and the optimism and resilience of local people as they struggle to rebuild their lives. A video of the work of Japan Earthquake Relief Fund grant recipients runs in tandem. Admission: FREE

Corporate Luncheon – One Year Later: Recovery & Resilience in Japan
Tuesday, March 6 from Noon until 2:30 p.m.

Economic recovery is essential to the future of the Tohoku region. With a particular focus on companies with a direct economic stake in the region, this panel addresses what needs to occur in Tohoku from a business perspective to promote economic growth and recovery. Panelists include Yoshimi Inaba, President and COO, Toyota Motor North America, Inc; Takashi Hatchoji, Chairman & Group Chairman for the Americas, Hitachi America, Ltd.; Kiichiro Sato, President, JETRO New York; and Paul Sheard, Global Chief Economist and Head of Economic Research, Nomura. Admission: $65 lunch and lecture/$15 lecture only. To register or for more information, please email register@japansociety.org, visit www.japansociety.org/corporateevents, or call 212-715-1208.

Fukushima, Japan Society, AK, New York
Preschoolers in Soma, Fukushima, with their drawings for pop singer AK

One Year Later: A Day of Reflection
Sunday, March 11 from 11:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.
**Remarks by Ambassador Shigeyuki Hiroki at 2:30 p.m.

Understanding that people will wish to mourn those who were lost, reflect upon what has been learned from the tragedy, and consider how Japan has moved forward in varying and highly individual ways, Japan Society provides a venue for both individual and collective contemplation. The day features programs for children and documentary films for adults. Ambassador Shigeyuki Hiroki will speak at 2:30 p.m. and lead a moment of silence at 2:46 p.m.

  • Children’s Artwork from Tohoku, 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
    Participants are invited to view and respond to artwork produced by children in the Tohouku region after the disasters of March 11. Featured works include drawings of smiling people, hearts, and sunflowers created by preschool children in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, in summer 2011; and photographs of art created out of debris by elementary school students in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture. The works focus on the themes of hope and restoration. Viewers can respond artistically or in writing to the images. The responses will be photographed and shared with people in Tohoku, and a selection will be hand delivered in summer 2012.  Admission is FREE.
  • HappyDolls for Tohoku, 1:00 p.m. until 2:30 p.m.
    Children are invited to design and create HappyDolls to be sent to children in Tohoku. HappyDolls are smiling ambassadors of hope, made by children for children, cheering and comforting those in need. New York-based singer AK Akemi Kakihara leads a short sing-a-long at the end of the session. AK is a popular Japanese singer/songwriter/producer who visited preschools in Soma, Fukushima, shortly after 3.11 and performed for the children there. HappyDoll.org is a New York nonprofit that connects children around the world.
    Open to children of all ages; materials are provided. Pre-registration is suggested, however, same-day registration is also welcome. To pre-register, email jseducation@japansociety.org or call (212) 715-1275. Admission is FREE.
  • Film – Can You See Our Lights?, 2:30 p.m.
    This documentary looks at Japanese summer festivals, which memorialize the souls of the departed, following the 3.11 disasters. Although many devastated places were unable to hold their centuries-old festivals, the people of several cities, including Rikuzen-Takada, Soma, and Minami-Soma.
    Admission: FREE. Tickets distributed on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 12:30 p.m. on March 11.
  • Film – Pray for Japan, 4:00 p.m.
    Stu Levy, an American living in Japan, filmed the aftermath during his trips to Tohoku as a volunteer following the disasters of 3.11. The documentary focuses on four perspectives of the tragedy and its real-life heroes: Shelter, school, family and volunteers. The film’s themes of vitality and hope reflect the inner strength people discover in the face of disaster.
    Tickets: $7/$5 Japan Society members, seniors & students
  • Film – The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom, 6:30 p.m.
    Survivors in the areas hardest hit by the March 11 tsunami find the courage to revive and rebuild as cherry blossom season begins. A stunning visual haiku about the ephemeral nature of life and the healing power of Japan’s most beloved flower, this film, nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject, was directed by Lucy Walker and features photography by Aaron Phillips and music by Moby.
    Tickets: $7/$5 Japan Society members, seniors & students.
AK, Fukushima, New York, Tsunami
NY-based Japanese pop singer AK performs for children in Fukushima

SHINSAI: The Conversation—Theater Artists Respond to the Earthquake in Japan
Monday, March 12 at 7:00 p.m.

On March 11, theaters around the country present 10-minute plays and songs commissioned from and donated by prominent American and Japanese artists. The project, SHINSAI: Theaters for Japan, benefits the Japan Playwrights Association, which disperses funds to the Japanese theater community affected by the disasters. The day after New York City’s all-star presentation at the Great Hall at Cooper Union – featuring works by Edward Albee, John Guare, Yoji Sakate, Toshiki Okada, Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman – Japan Society hosts several of the SHINSAI participants to share their personal responses to the disasters and discuss how artists can best support struggling theater makers in the Tohoku region. Moderated by Anne Cattaneo from Lincoln Center Theater, the program will be streamed live at http://www.ustream.tv/japansociety, and questions will be taken from viewers. Followed by a reception.
Tickets $14/$10 Japan Society members, seniors & students

Panel – Tohoku Post 3.11: What’s Happening Now
Tuesday, March 13 at 6:30 p.m.

A full year after the devastating earthquake and tsunamis hit the Tohoku region of Japan, many dedicated nonprofits and NGOs remain hard at work on recovery and reconstruction. Three NGO leaders, Hitoshi Abe, co-founder of Archi+ Aid and Chair & Professor, Architecture & Urban Design, UCLA; Keiko Kiyama, Secretary General of JEN; and Haruo Miyagi, Founder & President ETIC speak on the challenges they face and the future of Tohoku. Moderated by Ken Belson of The New York Times. Followed by a reception.
Tickets: $12/$8 Japan Society members, seniors & students

Program for Educators – Webinar: Teaching about March 11 & Japan’s Recovery
Tuesday, March 20 at 7:00 p.m.

The earthquake, tsunami and accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant affected the entire nation of Japan. This one-hour webinar provides insight into both the disaster and recovery efforts, as well as ideas for teaching about these disasters in the classroom. Japan Society education director Robert Fish introduces online and other classroom resources about the Tohoku region developed by Japan Society. Kerianne Panos, President of MCML Consulting, discusses her experience working in Japan with the nuclear industry and the Japanese government. Registration is free at www.smith.edu/fcceas.