On January 17, President & CEO Suzanne Basalla represented the U.S.-Japan Council at a reception co-hosted by Consul General Kenko Sone in his home in Los Angeles. The event, titled “Thank You From Fukushima,” conveyed the prefecture’s gratitude to organizations and individuals who have supported its recovery from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori particularly acknowledged the role of the U.S. government and military through Operation Tomodachi. He also thanked USJC for the TOMODACHI Initiative, along with many other citizen-led initiatives.
The event also celebrated Fukushima’s recovery with delicious rice, sake, peaches and other delights from Fukushima. Several USJC members attended, including Founding Chairman Tom Iino and Member of the Board of Councilors Congressman Mark Takano.
In her remarks, Ms. Basalla described American responses not only to the immediate impact of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, but also the longer term recovery. She reflected on the reliance of the people of Tohoku, and the hope of its youth. She also lauded Governor Uchibori’s leadership over the past decade, and noted his visionary leadership on climate, energy and sustainability.
“Many of you in this room have supported the people of Fukushima in your own way, sometimes by helping TOMODACHI, and other times through other organizations or your own efforts,” she stated. “Our lives have been richer for being intertwined with those of Fukushima.”
The TOMODACHI initiative has supported over 350 programs since inception, and in total, has offered life-changing experiences to almost 10,000 alumni. Out of these, nearly 1300 have been from Fukushima prefecture.