Reflection February 2016

JET Programme marks anniversary of 3.11

On 13 March, the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations and Sendai City—with support from the Reconstruction Agency and Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima Prefectures—will hold an event to commemorate five years since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.

Focusing on the experiences of JET Programme participants in Tohoku affected by the disaster, this event, at Sendai Mediatheque, will be an opportunity for reflection, and a chance to remember those who lost their lives, including participants Taylor Anderson and Monty Dickson.

The JET Programme began in 1987 with the purpose of increasing mutual understanding between the people of Japan and those of other nations. It continues to play a key role in local efforts to enhance internationalisation.

Participants are based throughout Japan, in one of three roles: assistant language teacher—who teach English and other foreign languages at schools—coordinator for international relations—who engage in translation, interpreting and event planning at local government offices—and sports exchange advisor—who promote internationalisation through sports.

During the event, there will be a panel discussion, featuring three alumni who were in Tohoku at the time of the disaster, and one former JET Programme supervisor. This session will be moderated by radio personality Keiko Itabashi of Date FM.

Based in Iwate Prefectural Office, Amanda Wayama was responsible for confirming the safety of local participants. Kevin Hsien worked in Fukushima Prefecture. Following the incident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, he remained in the area to help his neighbours and programme colleagues. Marshall Ikeda, who was based in Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture, lived in an emergency shelter for two weeks, where he taught English to children.

Also attending will be Reiko Kumagai, the Sendai City JET Programme supervisor at the time. She was in charge of all participants, and worked to confirm their safety in the aftermath.

The panellists are a great example of the competent, motivated talent that the programme brings to Japan, and the profoundly strong bonds that form among participants and their communities. They are representative of the many participants who, in areas stricken by the disaster, raised money for their schools, volunteered to help with recovery efforts, and continued to work.

One participant from Miyagi Prefecture, Wesley Julian, produced Tohoku Tomo, a documentary promoting recovery in the region.

A showing of Live Your Dream: The Taylor Anderson Story will follow the panel discussion. This documentary details the inspirational life of Taylor Anderson and how she pursued her ambition to live and work in Japan. Anderson’s brother, Jeffrey, who has followed in his sister’s footsteps to become a participant—in Nara Prefecture—will share his thoughts about her and the disaster.

The Tohoku region is recovering but there is much still to be done. JET Programme participants in Tohoku, as well as other parts of Japan, are contributing to these efforts.

The free event in Sendai will allow guests to remember the disaster, learn about the programme, and hear the experiences of the panellists. For further details, and to reserve a place, email: