Japan Earthquake & Tsunami Emergency Relief

Japan Earthquake & Tsunami Emergency Relief (147th report)
UNICEF Photo Exhibition of Great East Japan Earthquake travels to Iwate, Okayama, Kumamoto, Hiroshima and New York Headquarters

[TOKYO, JAPAN, 15 March 2012]

© Okayama Association for UNICEF
The exhibit traveled to Okayama between 9-11 March. Over 1,500 residents visited the exhibit during its three days in the prefecture.

In autumn 2011 the UNICEF Photo Exhibition of Great East Japan Earthquake was held at the Tokyo International Forum, where it attracted the attendance of more than 50,000 visitors. From the beginning of this month the same exhibition traveled from Iwate to Okayama, Kumamoto and Hiroshima Prefectures, and starting 5 March, more than a year after the disaster, the exhibit will be on display in the United Nations Visitors Lobby at the United Nations Headquarter building in New york. This exhibition was made possible with the cooperation of a large number of partners, including the United Nations, UNICEF Headquarters and the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations.

“The images of the disaster area shook the world.”

© Japan Committee for UNICEF/K.Shindo   © Japan Committee for UNICEF
A visitor stares at one of the 160 large prints on display at the United Nations Headquarters building on the opening day of the exhibit.   Tourists and students on field trips filled the United Nations Visitors Lobby to see the exhibit.

Staff began setting up the exhibit in the lobby of the United Nations Headquarters on the afternoon of 1 March New York time. Tourists from around the world and local New York children walked together along the special course set up for visitors, carefully taking in each of the 160 photographs. People with cameras and mobile phones took pictures of the images of damage created by the disaster and the assistance activities implemented by JCU. The head of the exhibit at the United Nations said, “People in the United States have forgotten about the Japanese disaster. It never appears on television or in the newspaper anymore. I am sure that this exhibit will remind a lot of people about the catastrophe.”

The photo exhibit begins with the words of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: “The world was greatly shaken by the many pictures that came from Japan on the morning of 11 March.” Over 100 people participated in the opening ceremony held on the first day of the exhibit, including United Nations and UNICEF staff, media from Japan and the United States, and around 30 students from the United Nations International School. Some people were at a loss of words and others cried upon seeing the one to two-meter size portraits of the disaster and children of the Tohoku region.

© Japan Committee for UNICEF/K.Shindo

The opening ceremony was moderated by United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Kiyotaka Akasaka (right in the photo). Over 100 people attended the ceremony. The picture on the right shows (from the left) JCU Executive Director Yoshihisa Togo, who extended a message of gratitude on behalf of JCU to the international community for its generous assistance, Ambassador Jun Yamazaki of the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations, who attended on behalf of the Government of Japan, and UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for External Affairs Yoka Brandt, who offered her condolences to the people of the disaster areas and gratitude for the assistance of everyone that has assisted Japan on behalf of the United Nations Secretary-General and of the UNICEF Executive Director.

JCU has received a large number of messages in accordance with holding this photo exhibition at United Nations Headquarters. Of those, the following is the original message received from Takashi Hanai, Secretary-general of Tokyo Press Photographers Association, from whom JCU received tremendous support in the selection of photos for the exhibit and in coordinating with newspapers and news agencies.

On March 11th 2011, Japan was struck by a tremendous earthquake and tsunami bringing upon unprecedented devastation to the Tohoku Region.

Over 15,000 people lost their lives and more than 3,000 are still unaccounted for. I pray for the victims, and offer my deepest condolences to all who have been affected.

I would also like to thank all of those at the United Nations, who worked tirelessly to assist and aid us during the crisis through the Japan Committee for UNICEF.

The opening of the "Children and the 2011 Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Exhibition" under the attendance of the Secretary General and Ambassadors is truly encouraging for all of the photographers of the Tokyo Press Photographers Association who have been covering the affected areas.

The aerial photo of the actual tsunami sweeping in to destroy everything in its path, those documenting the life of an orphaned child--. I hope these images portray the preciousness of life, the struggles of the children trying to overcome hardship, and the hope that one day we will recover what has been lost.

The victims and affected areas will always be in our hearts. We hope to watch over the recovery process, document it and raise awareness when issues arise.

My deepest gratitude to the people at UNICEF for making this exhibition possible.
Thank you for this opportunity today.

March 5, 2012
Tokyo Press Photographers Association
Secretary General
Takashi Hanai

The photo exhibition will continue until the end of March. In Japan, the exhibit is scheduled to travel to various destinations nationwide. For more details please see the event calendar(Japanese only) .Thank you for this opportunity today.