1,827 days have passed since Tohoku catastrophe. Counting the number of days in these five years, I could remember the sufferers from the Great East Japan Earthquake reaching this day after facing many difficulties. The bereaved families may still be in deep grief. Above all, I am saddened by the situation that there are people who remain missing and the families of those are living with sorrow.
After the safety confirmation following the Earthquake and Tsunami, the Ritsumeikan Trust established the Office for the Support of Post-Disaster Recovery so as to contribute to recovery from the Earthquake and Tsunami from Kansai, Hokkaido and Oita where our campuses were located. A total of 1,200 Ritsumeikan students and pupils, beyond geographical distances, have visited the disaster area to participate in volunteer work so far. In addition to the practical researches, we are promoting collaborative practices to bring together the knowledge through the revitalization process from the unprecedented disaster. Through being close to the local people, our students and pupils have obtained many opportunities to learn. Such opportunity is something that cannot be obtained at university or school.
A year ago, facing the fourth year since the Earthquake and Tsunami, Ritsumeikan co-hosted a symposium with Fukushima University. At the symposium, I strongly felt that it was important not to sum up the survivors, such as "at Tohoku," "at the disaster area," or "at Fukushima," in such a simple word. One of our students at Ritsumeikan University who got involved in preparation for holding a ceremony to celebrate lifting of evacuation order at Naraha town (Fukushima) told to the local people who have helped her like this.
"No matter how few people are living here in such a quiet place, I feel the energy of people who have lived here and will carry on living here."
As time proceeds after the Earthquake and Tsunami, we must cultivate our imaginagion towards the current situation of the people at the disaster area.
In the past year alone, we had many disasters around the world such as the Gorkha earthquake, April 2015 Nepal and Taiwan Earthquake in this February. Ritsumeikan continues its efforts to build back better for a hopeful future for each area where we have made close relationship with during the activities taken since the Earthquake and Tsunami. Moreover, we bring our experiences obtained through providing recovery support and fill our imagination towards the person to be supported. I am convinced that such effort is part of the answer for us, as an educational and research institution, to promoting peace, democracy and sustainable development in Japan and throughout the world.
March 11, 2016
Mikio Yoshida, Chancellor of the Ritsumeikan Trust