NEW YORK – Students from Fukushima Prefecture attended a memorial service in New York on Sunday for victims of the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.
Satsuki Sekine, 16, a second-year student at Futaba Future High School in the prefecture, delivered a speech on behalf of the students at the ceremony.
“I hope I can make people smile,” she said in Japanese.
The event was organized ahead of the seventh anniversary of the calamity, which devastated many communities along the Pacific coastline of the Tohoku region. The event drew about 440 people, organizers said.
Sekine, from Iwaki, fled the town of Tomioka after the triple core meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, which lost all power after swamped by tsunami.
She said that after moving out of Fukushima, she was “bullied severely” due to misunderstandings about radiation and that she even thought of committing suicide.
But Sekine endured her hardships, encouraged by her own dream of making everyone smile, she said.
“I was able to grow up” she said of the bullying and her participation in the high school’s theater club.
“I became able to confront not only my own difficulties, but those of society as well,” Sekine said. Her speech drew a rousing round of applause.
At Sunday’s event, about 440 people offered silent prayers for the March 2011 victims, organizers said.