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On March 3, in commemoration of the second anniversary of the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami and the ensuing nuclear accident in Tohoku (Northeastern Japan), Soka Gakkai held its monthly Headquarters Leaders Meeting at the Soka Gakkai Fukushima Culture Center in Koriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture.
The meeting brought together members from Tohoku and Soka Gakkai representatives from throughout Japan, including those belonging to the farming and fishing communities group. It was also broadcast live at 15 venues in the 6 prefectures that make up the region. At each venue, participants offered prayers for the deceased and for the well-being of those affected by the disaster.
SGI President Daisaku Ikeda sent a message, commending the people of Tohoku for their unyielding courage, sincerity and perseverance in rebuilding their communities. He encouraged them to support one another and become people who can impart hope and courage to society.
Representatives shared reports of their efforts to rebuild their communities since the earthquake. Among them was Soka High School graduate Ken Shiohata, who had just completed his two-year medical internship in Ofunato City, Iwate Prefecture, on the day of the disaster. He spent three straight weeks providing medical assistance to victims at the hospital where he worked and shared how caring for countless patients during this period had strengthened his commitment to become the kind of doctor who will always exert himself to the utmost for the sake of his patients.
Eiko Sugawara, executive board member of an NGO in Tsuruoka City, Yamagata Prefecture, famous for its cherries and pears, spoke about her work organizing a farm experience event to promote youth interest in the agriculture of her town, which has been ailing since the disaster.
In a similar vein, Takayuki Kato, who runs a nursing home with his family in Fukushima Prefecture, reported on his work with the Tsuchiyu-Onsen Tourist Association, an organization formed to help revitalize tourism to hot springs in the region, which has declined since the nuclear accident. related article SGI Youth from Across Asia Deepen Bonds of Friendship in Kyushu From May 17-19, a group of 24 SGI youth leaders from India, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand traveled to Kyushu, southernmost of the four main islands of Japan, for a weekend of exchange with youth members in the region. The trip was part of an SGI training course that began in Tokyo on May 15.
Strawberry farmers Hideyoshi and Yoko Mori from Watari in Miyagi Prefecture, whose family has a 300-year history of growing strawberries, described how they narrowly survived the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. As the town relies heavily on strawberry farming, the tsunami left many citizens out of work and facing severe difficulties.
Gaining strength from SGI President Ikeda's encouragement to never give up, Mr. Mori gathered feedback from the farmers and asked the local government and the Central Union of Agricultural Co-operatives for their assistance. He eventually managed to gain funding for a project involving cutting-edge technology to restore strawberry farming in the town. Some 104 households joined the project.
The leaders meeting closed with a speech by Soka Gakkai President Minoru Harada, who spoke about how one's true nature is revealed at times of difficulty. He encouraged participants to never to be defeated in spirit no matter what trials they might face.
[Adapted from articles in the March 4, 8 and 13, 2013, issues of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of Seikyo Shimbun]
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