RIO DE JANEIRO – The Chilean government is planning to give a stone replica of an Easter Island Moai statue created by Chilean artisans to Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, which was hit particularly hard by last year’s earthquake and tsunami.
The Chileans say the statue, the first made from the island’s stone to be given to a foreign country, is a gesture of gratitude for Japanese support to restore the monolithic figures, which have been exposed to the elements for many centuries.
Chile gave a Moai replica to Minamisanriku in 1991 to promote friendship between the two countries. The city was chosen to receive the statue because it had been affected by a tsunami triggered by a powerful 1960 temblor in Chile.
That statue was destroyed by last year’s tsunami.
A family of Easter Islanders who made the first Moai volunteered to make a new one for Minamisanriku with stone from the island, which is considered sacred, after overcoming the opposition of other residents. The 91-year-old head of the family expressed his hope that the Moai will be well received in Japan.
The new statue is 5 meters high and weighs 6 tons, including the pedestal. The cost will be shared by donors, including Chilean and Japanese companies.
The statue is due to be shipped to the port of Yokohama after its completion ceremony around September, according to the islanders and the Japanese Embassy in Chile.
Tohoku students in U.S.
Ten students from three prefectures in the Tohoku region that were badly hit by the 2011 quake and tsunami wrapped up a short tour of the United States on Monday with a gathering in Washington.
The group of high school and university students from Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures visited New York, scene of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, and New Orleans, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The meeting in Washington involved U.S. nongovernmental organization members and Japanese Embassy officials.