Updates from Tohoku: A Journey to New Life

March 31, 2015 at 6pm - 8pm
David Friend Recital Hall, Berklee College of Music (921 Boylston Street, Boston, MA)

Host and Member of the Board of Directors Atsuko Fish (right) with Council Member Dr. Susumu Ito (left)

USJC’s New England Members commemorated the Great East Japan Earthquake with an inspiring night of “Updates from Tohoku & A Night of Remembrance: A Journey to a New Life,” on March 31. Hosted by the Fish Family Foundation, where Member of the USJC Board of Directors Atsuko Fish serves as a Trustee, the evening’s program offered reflection, insights and inspiration to a packed house in Boston’s Berklee College of Music.

USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye opened the program with an explanation of USJC’s work to support Tohoku, and an update on her participation in the recent 3rd UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Sendai, Japan. Consul General of Boston Tsutomu Himeno offered warm greetings, with a moving reminder of the losses suffered on March 11, 2011.

Council Member Shun Kanda sharing his plan for rebuilding Tohoku

The program continued with three Tohoku updates. Council Member Shun Kanda, Director of the MIT Japan 3/11 Initiative, offered his vision for an innovative rebuilding plan that would better serve the community’s needs based on his deep engagement in the Minamisanriku community. Council Member Anne Nishimura Morse, William and Helen Pounds Senior Curator of Japanese Art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, provided fascinating insights into artistic responses to March 11th through work she collected and curated at the museum’s new exhibit, “In the Wake: Japanese Photographers Respond to 3/11.” USJC Friend of the Council, Megumi Ishimoto, next inspired the audience with an update on the work that the NPO she founded, Women’s Eye, has accomplished to support women in Tohoku, especially those in evacuation centers and temporary housing. Megumi credited both the TOMODACHI NGO Leadership Program supported by J.P. Morgan, as well as the Japan Women’s Leadership Initiative supported by the Fish Family Foundation, for providing the resources to expand her NPO’s work within the community, and to launch an International Grassroots Women’s Academy in Tohoku.

Following the Tohoku updates, Dr. Paul Watanabe, Council Member and Director of the Institute for Asian American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston, provided an eloquent testimonial about the role the Japanese American community has played in strengthening U.S.-Japan relations, from advising the Japanese government, to educating Japanese American leaders, to launching the TOMODACHI initiative. The program closed with a rousing performance by Shun Kumagai (saxophone) and Takeru Saito (piano), both from the Tohoku region and currently studying at the Berklee College of Music on a TOMODACHI Suntory Music Scholarship Fund.

We were thrilled to be joined by many USJC Members, Boston community leaders, students, and friends of USJC. We express our deep and sincere thanks to Atsuko Fish, Kozue Sawame, and Fish Family Foundation for their vision and hard work; to Berklee College of Music for providing the venue; and to all the speakers and performers who made the evening such a success! 

Council Member Dr. Paul Watanabe discussing the role of Japanese Americans in strengthening U.S.-Japan relations

See more photos of the event here. Further photos and video from the event will be posted as they become available.