• Kyodo

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Japanese high school students from areas hit by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami took part in a concert in New York on Tuesday to express gratitude for the reconstruction assistance given by the United States and countries around the world.

The students performed Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection” under a project called “Hand in Hand,” where international concerts are held to call for the support needed to help the areas and those affected by the disaster recover.

The event marked the fifth anniversary of the March 11, 2011, disaster that devastated the Tohoku region.

“We want to present our strong will to make a new Tohoku and Fukushima through music,” said Yuka Saito, 17, a student from Tachibana High School in Fukushima Prefecture in a speech after the performance.

She also talked about people who have been living away from their hometowns for five years and the sense of loss they feel. Residents near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant are still unable to return home since the nuclear accident triggered by the disaster.

The chorus, in which students from the College of New Jersey also took part, was directed by Atsushi Yamada, principal conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra of New York.

“We want to sing Mahler’s Resurrection while grasping its meaning,” said Akane Zenibukuro, 17, a student from Kuji High School in Iwate Prefecture in a press conference before the performance.

“I want to stand on the stage to express gratitude for the reconstruction,” said Aya Kurosawa, 17, from Sendaisanou High School of Miyagi Prefecture.

On Wednesday, the students were set to perform a chorus of Japanese composer Minoru Miki’s “Requiem,” to commemorate the victims of the Japanese disaster and of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

In line with COVID-19 guidelines, the government is strongly requesting that residents and visitors exercise caution if they choose to visit bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.

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