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August 30, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Japanese Governor of Hard-Hit Iwate Area Says Thank You for Tsunami Aid

Dr. Christopher Thompson presents Iwate Prefecture Governor Tasso w

Dr. Christopher Thompson presents Iwate Prefecture Governor Takuya Tasso with a framed photo of a group of students from Ohio University and the Iwate Prefecture University.

The Governor of Japan’s Iwate Prefecture, which was inundated by the 2011 tsunami and earthquake, said thank you to donors from the United States at a Thank You Tomodachi event in New York Aug. 26 with an evening of celebration and remembrance.

The event featured words of gratitude from the Iwate Prefectural Governor Takuya Tasso, a profile about the reconstruction initiatives that have taken place and are under way, a mini-concert by reconstruction ambassador Junko Yagami, an Iwate Prefecture reconstruction photo exhibition, and an exhibit about UNESCO World Heritage site Hiraizumi.

Volunteering at the Nanohana Project in the town of Otsuchi last fall. Ohio University was the only university invited to attend the special thank you. Thompson is Chair of Linguistics in the Ohio University College of Arts & Sciences and Executive Director of Japan Relations for Ohio University.

Thompson and a group of students leave Sept. 12 for Japan for the third fall service trip to the Iwate Prefecture.

Ohio University enjoys a long history with Japan. OHIO’s first international student was from Japan. Sakitaro Murayama, a graduate of a university in Tokyo in 1890, earned a BS degree in Electrical Engineering at OHIO in 1895. The campus continues to boast a variety of extraordinary Japan ties: OHIO’s 15th President Dr. Vernon Alden (1962-1969) received the Order of the Rising Sun from the Japanese government; the 200 cherry trees that line the Hocking River on the southern edge of campus were a gift from Chubu University in Aichi, a strategic partner since 1973; and the university’s Japanese Language Program is the second largest in the state (in 2011) with 220 students. OHIO also has a direct link to Iwate Prefecture and Japan’s March 2011 triple disaster as it unfolded there, via ties cultivated during Thompson’s 25 years of ethno-graphic research in the region.

In September 2011, just months after the earthquake, then-Associate Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences Tom Scanlan and Thompson dispatched a team of students, faculty, and alumni to the Rikuchu Coast in northeast Honshu to help with the tsunami recovery efforts. This initiative, sanctioned by current President Roderick J. McDavis, is part of a five-year outreach partnership with the students and faculty of Iwate Prefectural University (IPU) to support 3.11 victims in remote areas of Iwate’s northern coast.

Read more about Ohio University’s relationship with Japan and the Consulate General of Japan in Detroit:

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