On October 4, the U.S.-Japan Council was honored to have an appearance at an event at the Embassy of Japan in Washington, DC, titled, “Unshakable Friendship: Remembrance of 3.11”. Hosted by Japanese Ambassador Tomita, this event, which sought to emphasize U.S.-Japan friendship in the aftermath of the trauma of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the northeastern region of Japan, convened a small gathering of leaders representing U.S.-Japan relations with multiple sectors, from military, government, nonprofit and educational institutions.
USJC President and CEO Suzanne Basalla served as moderator for the evening’s featured panel, a hybrid discussion which brought together Ambassador John Roos (U.S. Ambassador to Japan from 2009-2013), Admiral Patrick Walsh (Former Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet) and Professor Richard Halberstadt (Director of the Ishinomaki Community & Info Center.) Titled “Strengthening U.S.-Japan Alliance: What We Learned from 3.11 Response & Reconstruction,” this discussion brought the spotlight to leaders who contributed to disaster relief and recovery efforts. Ms. Basalla was also in Japan during the 2011 disaster, serving as Senior Advisor to Ambassador Roos and working at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo from 2010-2012. At that time, she partnered with USJC’s founding president, Irene Hirano Inouye, to help launch what would become the TOMODACHI Initiative.
Another speaker of the evening was TOMODACHI alumna Hinako Murakami, who is from Ishinomaki, an area severely damaged by the 2011 disaster. She shared memories of the traumatic day and its immediate aftermath, as well as her story of becoming a TOMODACHI Initiative participant and how this experience helped her realize her dream of bridging Japan and the United States. She joined the TOMODACHI Summer SoftBank Leadership Program as a high school student and studied abroad. She is now back in her hometown of Ishinomaki working with Fisherman Japan, where she promotes seafood products from the coastal region to the rest of the world.
This event was featured on NHK TV, and video footage is available for viewing here.