JAKARTA – About 600 people in Indonesia’s Aceh Province, which was devastated by a massive earthquake and tsunami in 2004, participated in a ceremony Monday to commemorate the second anniversary of a similar catastrophe that ravaged the Tohoku region in 2011.
Schoolchildren, representatives of society and nongovernmental organizations, government officials and others participated in the “Solidarity for Japan” ceremony, which was organized by the Indonesia-Japan Friendship Forum at a schoolhouse in Peukan Bada, a village near the provincial capital, Banda Aceh.
“The disaster, which is now being commemorated by the Acehnese people, has shown that Acehnese and Japanese people are brothers and sisters and we will always be together to develop Aceh and Japan,” Yuji Hamada, Japanese consul general in Medan, said at the ceremony.
Hamada led the gathering in silent prayer at 2:46 p.m., the time when the magnitude 9.0 quake struck Japan on March 11, 2011.
Umar Abdullah Aziz, secretary general of Panglima Laot Aceh, an association of Acehnese fishermen, expressed hope that the commemoration can strengthen solidarity and cooperation between the two countries, particularly in seeking ways to reduce tsunami risks.
“Like in Aceh, many victims in the Japanese tsunami were also fishermen,” Aziz said.
Closing the ceremony, students dressed in red-colored clothes formed the Japanese character for “kizuna,” a word that means bonds between people.
Aceh alone lost some 180,000 people in the magnitude 9.1 quake and tsunami that struck on Dec. 26, 2004.
3/11 monument in U.K.
A stone monument inscribed with Emperor Akihito’s words of gratitude for the British people’s assistance after the massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku was unveiled in Holland Park on Monday, the second anniversary of the disaster.
“It was truly heartening, that so many people in this country, not only expressed their profound sympathy for the victims of the calamity, but also promptly organized a wide range of valuable relief activities, to help those in need.
“Your kind and practical response has, I presume, further strengthened the deep friendship, that has already existed for such a long time, between the peoples of our two countries,” the stone reads in English, according to the Imperial Household Agency.