Grateful Tohoku students express thanks with concert in Big Apple


About 70 students from the Tohoku region gave a concert Friday in New York to express their gratitude for U.S. support after the March 2011 disasters.

The students, assembled from five high schools in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, sang Verdi’s “Requiem” accompanied by a choir of around 100 singers from New Jersey at the prestigious Lincoln Center. A similar event was staged last March.

Wakana Yuda, 17, of Asakareimei High School in Fukushima, told the audience after the performance that many of the buildings at her school were damaged by the disasters but that they could continue singing practice because the music room was spared.

“Many people worldwide have given us their strong support and cooperation . . . We are eternally grateful for that,” she said.

Kana Murakami, 17, from Iwate, said before the concert that Tohoku is making progress. “Many people are working hard on reconstruction. I’m glad we’re also able to show our strength on a stage like this,” he said.

Debris past halfway mark


Slightly over half of the 16.3 million tons of debris generated by the March 2011 tsunami in the three hardest-hit prefectures in Tohoku had been disposed of by the end of February, the Environment Ministry said.

The amount was 8.36 million tons, or 51 percent of the total, up 5 percentage points from January, the ministry said Friday. That figure excludes debris from around the radiation-tainted Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

In addition, 2.29 million tons, or 22 percent, of the 10.4 million tons of sediment deposits left by the waves have been removed. In Iwate and Miyagi, the overall disposal rate came to 53 percent for debris and 25 percent for deposits of sediment.

The ministry hopes to have all of the debris removed by the end of March 2014, although it has yet to find sites for 40,000 tons of some 700,000 tons of unburnable waste that must be processed outside the three prefectures.