The U.S.-Japan Bridging Foundation Remembers 3/11 and Supports Recovery Efforts in the Tohoku Region with Hope for its Future

March 9, 2016 

Tomorrow commemorates the fifth anniversary of the devastating triple disaster that befell the Tohoku region of Japan on March 11, 2011.  As the Bridging Foundation reflects on this event, we honor the memory of the thousands who perished in the disaster; we admire the fortitude of those working tirelessly to rebuild the region and heal people; and we celebrate the hope that pours forth from the collective efforts of the many individuals and organizations in Japan, the United States, and across the globe seeking to learn from and create a better future out of this experience.

Bridging Scholars Program

The Bridging Foundation sees hope in the next generation of global leaders who we are fortunate to meet through our Bridging Scholars program.  Christian, who studied at Tohoku University last year, says, “During the 2011 earthquake in the Tohoku region of Japan, one of the greatest problems during the aftermath was the lack of communication and information.  I raised money when I was in high school for a donation for the tsunami victims.  But what I really wanted to do is someday go to the Tohoku region of Japan to do research and learn Japanese and Japanese culture.  My research is about ultra-broadband communication.  It’s a system in which people, even in remote areas of Japan like in the far countryside and in the mountains, can receive strong wireless communications.”

We are proud that many Bridging Scholars deepen their Japan experience after graduating from college by participating in the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET).  These young adults continue the rich legacy of previous JETs, including those who were serving in Tohoku on 3/11.

U.S. JET Alumni Association

The U.S. JET Alumni Association (USJETAA), a Center for Global Partnerships funded initiative, is partnering with Global Giving to honor the memory of two JET Progamme participants, Taylor Anderson and Monty Dickson, who lost their lives on that day while serving students in the Tohoku region. GlobalGiving will provide a 50% match towards donations made to two projects run by the Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund (TAMF), starting at midnight, March 11, 2016 JST.  Over the past two years, this effort by JET alumni across the U.S. has raised over $70,000 (including matching funds) to support the work of TAMF. For more information, please visit: globalgiving.org/fundraisers/jets-rally-for-tohoku.

Friendship Blossoms—Dogwood Tree Initiative

The Bridging Foundation was honored to participate in a public-private partnership with the U.S. Department of State and many corporate, government, and civic partners in the U.S. and Japan on the Friendship Blossoms—Dogwood Tree Initiative to commemorate Japan’s gift of 3,000 cherry trees to the people of the United States in 1912, by giving 3,000 dogwood trees to the people of Japan to be planted throughout Japan, particularly in the Tohoku recovery area.  Since its launch in 2012, 3,061 dogwood trees were planted in 84 locations across Japan from the 104 applications we received.  The final tree was planted on December 14, 2015, at a community house that was recently built as part of reconstruction efforts in Nodamura Village, Iwate Prefecture.  The Friendship Blossoms provides a beautiful, living symbol of friendship between people of Japan and the United States.

These people-to-people exchanges remind us that the strength of the U.S.-Japan relationship enables us to support one another and provide hope as we endure crisis.