TAIPEI - A memorial ceremony was held in Taipei on Monday to mark the eighth anniversary of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which devastated northeastern Japan, and express gratitude for the assistance provided by Taiwan.
Around 80 people attended the event held at the Taipei office of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, Japan’s de facto embassy in Taiwan in the absence of official ties.
The ceremony began with the observation of a minute of silence at 1:46 p.m., the local time when the quake occurred on March 11, 2011.
The earthquake triggered huge tsunami waves that engulfed the six-reactor Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, causing core meltdowns and explosions in the following days.
Mikio Numata, the head of the office, said the equivalent of ¥20 billion in donations sent by Taiwanese following the disasters was a huge boost to the spirits of people in the Tohoku region.
“There was already a special bond between Japan and Taiwan before the disaster,” Numata said. “The northeastern Japan earthquake made us see it more clearly.”
Numata said the disaster areas are on their way to recovery in a gradual and steady way, citing the increase in foreign tourists visiting Tohoku.
Describing Taiwan as “a good friend” of Japan, Taiwan-Japan Relations Association President Chiou I-jen told the same ceremony that the perseverance of the Japanese people and reconstruction efforts of the Japanese government have served as an inspiration for all mankind.
“As a good friend of Japan, we are more than happy to work with you,” Chiou said. “We might not be able to do much and we might not be powerful enough, but please remember Taiwan is your friend and we are always there for you.”
Naruyuki Ando, a director of the Taipei branch of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the Japanese people will never forget the loss of innocent lives and property in the 2011 disaster. Nor will they forget the support and encouragement their Taiwanese friends have provided.
Ando said that while people living outside the disaster areas have returned to their normal lives, many in the Tohoku region still live in temporary housing. Before they return to normal life, the affected people still need help and support.
Thanking Taiwan on behalf of Japanese living in Taiwan, Ando pledged to commit his association to advancing bilateral relations, saying the 2011 disaster strengthened the friendly relationship with Taiwan.
“Taiwan makes us see friends in need are friends indeed,” he said.
Takeshi Yagi, an executive of the local Japanese chamber, said the event was held to remember not only lives lost in the 2011 disaster but also Taiwan’s support and encouragement.
The event closed with participants from Japan and Taiwan presenting wreaths of white flowers.