Photos of hope adorn prime minister’s door

by Masami Ito

Staff Writer

The heartbreaking images of hopelessness and despair from the devastation the megaquake and tsunami brought last March 11 remain fresh in the memory of not only Japan but the rest of the world.

The struggle for recovery is far from over, but small signs of hope are beginning to emerge as seen through 30 photographs on show at the prime minister’s office.

Titled “Watashi no Fukko Dayori” (“My Reconstruction Letter”), the images displayed at the entrance show glimpses of the current state of the disaster zone, especially when world leaders visit Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.

“You can see the people’s hope and efforts toward reconstruction, and many of them capture exactly the current state of the disaster area,” Noda told reporters Monday to kick off the exhibit. “Once again, I am filled with strong intent to push the reconstruction measures forward.”

The 30 photos were selected from 504 images and messages on the website of the Cabinet Secretariat. They were all sent to the government by victims and volunteer groups.

One picture shows a father and child looking up at a lit-up Christmas tree in Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, accompanied by the message: “Make this town shine again.” Another shows volunteers presenting colorful violets they planted in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture.

The heartwarming smiles of young children and elderly people are captured in many of the pictures, showing their strength and will to overcome the disaster.

Noda, who looked at the photographs Monday, said the one that left the strongest impression was a picture of women gathered in a circle at a temporary housing complex in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, massaging their babies and infants.

“The most soothing thing is to see the smiles of these children,” Noda said.

The captions are currently in Japanese only, but according to an official at the Cabinet Secretariat, English translations will be available as early as Tuesday. The photos will be shown till March 11.