NHK World Offers Slate of Programming to Mark 10 Years After Japan Disaster

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“3.11 – Ten Years On” is a two-month event to commemorate a decade after the largest earthquake ever recorded in Japan.

Actor Ken Watanabe leads “A Compassionate View: The Decade Since the Great East Japan Earthquake” on NHK World TV.

NHK World Japan, the English-language international service of Japan’s sole public broadcaster, NHK, will present a collection of premiere and encore programming to mark the 10-year anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011, which spurred a tsunami, a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, and mass destruction along Japan’s east coast.

The programming event airs throughout March and April.

This exceptional compendium of programs serves as a compelling reminder — and cautionary tale — around the unprecedented mega-disaster, and captures the magnitude and emotions surrounding its occurrence and aftermath.

The programs depict the ways in which the tragedy has affected the people of Japan, exploring their first-hand experiences, as well as their resilience and resolution to rebuild their country in ways that make it even stronger. Descriptions of all programs in “3.11 – 10 Years On” can be found at nhk.jp/world.

Among the international broadcast premieres is “Ken Watanabe — A Compassionate View: The Decade Since the Great East Japan Earthquake.” One of Japan’s most respected and well-known actors, Watanabe used his notoriety to bring international attention to the disaster, and during the past decade has listened to the stories of more than 20,000 people. The documentary follows Watanabe as he visits four communities most affected by the disaster — Katsurao (Fukushima Prefecture), Kesennuma (Miyagi), Rikuzentakata (Iwate), and Kamaishi (Iwate) — and gets to know its victims. The program airs Friday, March 5; Saturday, March 6; and Friday, March 12.

Another international broadcast premiere, “Generation March 11: Their 10-Year Journey,” is a sequel to “Five Years, Five Stories,” a documentary that aired on NHK World Japan in 2016. It continues telling the stories and tracking the progress of the lives of children born in the disaster area around the time it occurred.

This documentary portrays the ways in which these children have been affected by the tragedy, showing a number of them working to ensure it is never forgotten, and helping their hometowns flourish once again. “Generation March 11: Their 10-Year Journey” airs Friday, March 26; Saturday, March 27; and Friday, April 2.

Tomoyasu Murata’s third entry in his series of earthquake-themed works, “A Branch of a Pine Is Tied Up,” premieres Friday, March 12.

Even anime is featured in “3.11 – 10 Years On,” as the programming collection includes a new documentary on one of Japan’s most prolific and award-winning stop-motion animation artists, Tomoyasu Murata, and his passion for commemorating the victims of the disaster.

This special edition of “Anime Supernova” features Murata’s “A Branch of a Pine Is Tied Up,” the third entry in his series of earthquake-themed works. The story follows twin sisters affected by the tsunami — one who survives and the other who loses her life. The ghost of the deceased twin wanders different locations of their shared childhood, searching for memories of her sister. The film airs Friday, March 12, and Saturday, March 13.

“The Phone of the Wind: Whispers to Lost Families” is about a disconnected phone booth on a hill overlooking the ocean in Otsuchi Town and the grieving people who come to “call” family members lost during the tsunami. The documentary airs March 6 and 7.

Among the encore programs marking the 10-year anniversary of the disaster is “3/11 — The Tsunami,” a two-part documentary that made its international broadcast premiere last January. The series combines footage from NHK camera crews with mobile phone and other video captured by citizens who were on scene during and after the earthquake and tsunami, and the country’s recovery efforts of the following year.

Carried throughout the U.S. since 2009, the 24/7 broadcast station reaches viewers through affiliates in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Atlanta, Seattle, Denver, Orlando, Charlotte, Baltimore, and Salt Lake City.

Locally, NHK World Japan is available on most cable and satellite systems, as well as for free over the air on KCET Channel 28.3.

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