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On January 12, Soka Gakkai student members in Tohoku held their second symposium addressing the progress of recovery following the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami that devastated parts of northeastern Japan. The event was held at Ishinomaki Senshu University in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, an area severely affected by the earthquake and tsunami.
At the symposium, representatives of the Soka Gakkai student division reported on the results of a survey conducted from October 1 to November 30, 2012, examining young people's attitudes about issues related to the March 11 disaster. Over 3,000 students from a total of 63 universities, junior colleges and vocational schools in six prefectures took part, including Miyagi, Fukushima and Iwate that were directly affected by the disaster.
Asked what they learned from March 11, 39.1% cited the importance of disaster prevention education; 31.9% highlighted the need for urban planning for disaster prevention; and 18.7% said they gained a greater understanding of energy issues.
In response to a question asking the youth what they felt could be learned from the people of Tohoku following the March 11 disaster, 39.4% of people identified the spirit of mutual cooperation, as reflected in the efforts of citizens to help one another following the crisis, despite many being victims themselves. Other factors cited included people’s strength and perseverance and that hope can be found even in times of adversity.
At the symposium, Professor Toshiaki Muramoto from the International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS) of Tohoku University delivered the keynote address on disaster-related cognitive science. He spoke about the psychological effects of disasters and emphasized the need for disaster preparedness on a routine basis.
Takumi Kato from the Graduate School of Tohoku University gave a presentation on the creation of an electric power network that could be supplied on a priority basis to hospitals and evacuation shelters in times of natural disasters.
Terumi Segawa of Iwate Prefectural University spoke about a Tohoku recovery event students organized in Morioka City, Iwate Prefecture. At the event, local kindergarten students and their parents joined in making lanterns conveying their wish for the quickest possible recovery of the affected area.
Responding to the student-led efforts to contribute to the recovery of Tohoku and the betterment of society, Professor Takashi Sakata, president of Ishinomaki Senshu University, emphasized how education and research should treasure the spirit of contributing to society.
[Adapted from an article in the January 14, 2013, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photo courtesy of Seikyo Shimbun]
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