SFVJACC Holds Tsunami Memorial Service

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Koichi and Keiko Saichi. Koichi spoke virtually to the gathering from Miyagi-ken about the struggles of victims of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

A Japan Earthquake Tsunami (JET) Memorial Service was held virtually during the tenth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, sponsored by the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center.

The multi-faith service was conducted by Rev. Sala Sekiya of San Fernando Valley Hongwanji Buddhist Temple, Rev. Karen Murata of Chatsworth United Methodist Church, Pastor Roland Hazama of Crossways Church of San Fernando Valley, and Pastor Paul Iwata of Sunrise Japanese Foursquare Church. They offered prayers for those left dead, missing, and injured by the 9.0 earthquake.

The JET program was opened by San Fernando Valley Taiko, led by Reid Taguchi. Guest speaker Koichi Saichi spoke from Miyagi-ken about recent updates. He and co-chair Kimiaki Chiba personally lost five members of their family, including Koichi’s father. A total of 15,899 people have died and 2,527 are still missing.

Saichi said, “Their souls may be wandering in the Pacific Ocean. My mother may have wanted to live in a place overlooking the ocean so that the spirit of these missing people could see her. I hope that these missing friends and family will comfort my mother.

A boy who was orphaned by the disaster.

“The town was swept away and lost its original appearance. I feel sad that it has changed so much but the roads and public facilities are improved on higher grounds, making it safer and more convenient than before. All national government reconstruction projects will end this year. The fishing industry is regaining its former vibrancy.

“Humans can never forget the benefits of being helped when they are in trouble.”

Saichi has represented the family during prior JET fundraisers in 2012 and 2016.

A brief report from EGAO, an eight-year-old nonprofit organization, was made by President Yoshiko Kawada. They have supported Kumamoto, Ecuador and the Tohoku earthquake victims with handmade Japanese craft items.

The program concluded with “Flowers Will Bloom Again,” sung by Harriet Furuya in both English and Japanese.

A call to action was led by Nancy Oda, co-chair, thanking everyone for their large and small donations, totaling $20,000. The proceeds will be wired to the “One Coin, 2,000 Supporters” project, which the 1,782 children who lost one or both parents to the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Their mission is to continue supporting these children until the youngest one who was still in the mother’s womb on March 11, 2011, graduates from high school in 2030.

Large donations from Akira Fujimoto, EGAO, the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center and the community will make a difference in the lives of the orphans. Donations will be accepted until May 20. Go to www.sfvjacc.com and click the donation link.

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