A President's Note
As Americans never forget September 11, we Japanese, will never forget March 11. This marked the day when an unprecedented natural disaster took place in modern Japanese history. A greater than magnitude 9 earthquake hit the country. Thirty minutes after the quake, the record high tsunami literally devastated the coast-side towns and villages in northern Japan. A husband was swept away in front of his wife's eyes, just a minute after he said he would check the house. A city-office worker, who was a newly-wed, lost her life while continuing to make evacuation announcements despite the oncoming tsunami. A young father lost his wife and two small children. He wanted to commit suicide and was determined to do so until his mother asked him a question; "Who will look after their spirits (if you are gone)?" The Japanese have never been spiritual people. Most young people are not religious. The shrines and churches are for wedding functions and the temples are for funerals. However, people started to pray. They pray for the dead. They pray to try to remember the exact time. They pray to give thanksgiving.
Through this tragedy, the people of Japan are also experiencing the kindness of humankind. We Japanese are stubborn and too proud to accept assistance from others. But through this overwhelming disaster, The Japanese people have begun to embrace the good-will and help from others around the world. The United States was one of the first countries to offer help. Two of the US Navy's largest ships, the USS Enterprise and the USS Ronald Reagan, were dispatched to assist in the recovery operations. As they approached the many Japanese relief workers, the sailors from the ships greeted them with smiling faces saying, "How are you?' Even New Zealand, which recently had been hit by a major earthquake sent a rescue team to Japan. I believe the people who experienced this disaster will be stronger as a result of the tragedy. Though many tears have been shed, their resolve, as a result of the tragedy has been strengthened.
As a Japanese living in America, I asked myself why I wasn't there when the Tsunami occurred. A Japanese abacus champion was living in Miyagi prefecture. He worked at a local bank. By pure chance, he was transferred to another city five days before the Tsunami flooded the town where he had worked and lived. All his co-workers are still missing. Why some were spared and while others died, we will never know. However, one thing is clear; this tragedy called "Tsunami" has brought together the kindness of so many people.
One of the first to e-mail me right after the tsunami was a student's mother who is from Chile. She wrote that when her country experienced an earthquake disaster, Japan helped them. She wanted to let me know if there was anything she could do to assist in any way. Another student's mother from Taiwan was also very concerned. She was a foreign student in Japan and recalled how nice the people in Japan were to her. She wanted to reciprocate their kindness! She immediately donated a generous check for the tsunami relief to SuperMath before we had established a Rescue Fund.
The SuperMath website continues to share information and on-going efforts to assist in the recovery efforts to aid Tsunami victims. If you have some kind of charity event planning, please, do not hesitate to ask us to put the information on our web.
- Mina Watanabe
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