National

People in New York and Los Angeles offer prayers ahead of 2011 Tohoku quake and tsunami anniversary

Kyodo

About 700 Americans and Japanese offered prayers Sunday at memorial events in New York and Los Angeles ahead of Saturday’s anniversary of the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami that triggered the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

At a church in downtown Manhattan, around 400 people observed a moment of silence requested by Japan’s consul general in New York, Reiichiro Takahashi.

Attending the ceremony from the disaster-struck town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, was 28-year-old Takeshi Matsunaga, who has been promoting traditional local pottery.

“I want to keep my hometown by passing down to the next generation the culture that has been cherished and protected in my region,” said Matsunaga, who was forced to relocate his family’s kiln following the reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

A choir sang a Japanese song, and a call was issued to support the victims of the powerful earthquakes in and around Kumamoto Prefecture last April.

Meanwhile, an estimated 300 people gathered at the headquarters of the Los Angeles Police Department to offer prayers for the victims of the March 11, 2011, magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami.

Masako Unoura, a 62-year-old resident of Los Angeles, who survived the disaster at her mother’s home in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, shed tears, saying she is still suffering after losing 15 relatives.

Unoura, who continues to support victims of the disaster, called on attendees to visit the affected areas when Tokyo hosts the Olympic Games in 2020.