Etcetera 3/21/13

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On the eve of the two-year anniversary of the great East Japan earthquake, Robert Keatts, chairman of the Walla Walla-Sasayama Sister City Committee heard from sister city colleague Bud Bard.

March 11 marked the second anniversary of the earthquake and resulting tsunami.

Bud said the Consulate-General of Japan in Seattle wanted to pass on a message from Japan’s government to the people of the world.

A memorial event was held March 10 in the Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center.

“Japan wishes to express its heartfelt gratitude for the outpouring of support from the international community,” the message began.

The nation’s No. 1 priority is to ramp up its revitalization process with an emphasis on economic revival, reconstruction and crisis management.

About $106 billion is being budgeted to stimulate the economy.

The 2012 and 2013 reconstruction budgets have been expanded with a major investment of $23.4 billion to restore and fortify such infrastructures as schools, highways and bridges.

“The structures will also serve as shelters and vital transportation routes during emergencies.

“Regionally, reconstruction and revitalization of Fukushima, which was affected by the nuclear power plant incident, will be intensified significantly from this year onward.”

All of the 320,000 people displaced by the earthquake and tsunami have been provided with housing and steady progress is being made on reconstruction, according to the message.

More than 165 of the 184 hospitals — or 90 percent — and 1,801 of the 2,325 schools — or 77 percent — have been reopened.

About 8.37 million visitors came to Japan in 2012, a significant increase from 6.22 million in 2011, and a return to pre-March 11 levels.

Japan seeks to leverage and reaffirm the total economic potential of the Tohoku region as part of nationwide revitalization through the efforts described above. Japan will continue to expedite reconstruction while co-operating with international partners and welcomes the participation and involvement of foreign companies in related projects.

The 50th anniversary of sister-state relations will be celebrated by Washington State and Hyogo Prefecture in 2013.

“The United States and Japan continue to enjoy close cultural and economic ties. We encourage all of you to visit Japan and deepen these ties while witnessing firsthand Japan’s revitalization,” said Tomoko Dodo, acting consul general of Japan in Seattle.

For more details, contact Dodo at 206-682-9107 or info@se.mofa.go.jp.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.

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