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On March 29, the student division of Soka Gakkai Japan hosted a reconstruction symposium at the Hitachi Systems Hall Sendai in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, as part of their nationwide SOKA Global Action initiative.
At the symposium, the results of a survey carried out by student division members in the Tohoku region and Tokyo area on youth awareness of issues related to the March 11, 2011, earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear accident were announced.
The survey collected responses from 1,905 students at 41 universities and vocational schools in Tohoku and 176 in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Respondents answered questions about the recovery process and how their outlook has changed since the disaster.
Asked whether they went about their daily lives with a conscious awareness of March 11, 30% of respondents stated “No or mostly no,” compared to 17.7% in September 2011, indicating a decline in awareness and sense of urgency concerning the disaster.
related article SGI Joins FBOs in Events on Disaster Risk Reduction at WCDRR From March 14 to 18, the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) was held in Sendai city in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. As a side event, on March 15, a symposium titled “Community based DRR from a faith-based perspective—sharing best practices” was organized by ACT Alliance and co-organized by SGI and the Japan Religion Coordinating Project for Disaster Relief (JRPD). The symposium was held at Sendai Civic Auditorium. Tohoku respondents seemed more practical in their focus than those in Tokyo. When asked what is necessary for reconstruction, 50.7% of Tohoku respondents identified the economic resources of central government, against only 36.1% of Tokyo students. When asked what students can do to contribute to reconstruction efforts, those in Tohoku more readily identified volunteering—37.7% of respondents against 25.4% in Tokyo.
Carried out between December 2013 and February 2014, this survey is the third conducted by the Soka Gakkai Japan student division, with the first held in September 2011 and the second in December 2012. The first two surveys only covered the Tohoku region.
Professor Toshiaki Muramoto of the International Research Institution of Disaster Science at Tohoku University, who helped design and supervise the survey, commented, “This survey provides a key insight on the changing levels of awareness of March 11 among Japan’s student population. . . In and of itself, such an initiative helps to put a stop to rising ignorance on the issue.”
Keynote speaker at the symposium was Hiroyuki Tamakake, Honorary Professor of Tohoku University, who spoke on Japanese responses to natural disasters.
Three students also shared their experiences of contributing to reconstruction. Tohoku University student Yoshiki Takatani reported how he supported relief efforts after March 11 from Niigata by making rice balls that were sent to help feed evacuees. Hideyuki Takamiya of the Tokyo University of Agriculture from Iwaki City in Fukushima shared his determination to return to Iwaki to work in forestry and Yusuke Wakabayashi of Tohoku University shared his research on how mutual encouragement can help develop richness of the heart.
Adapted from a report by the Soka Gakkai International Office of Public Information and the March 30, 2014, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photo courtesy of the Seikyo Shimbun.
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