Tohoku Children Visit Yokosuka Naval Base
March 30, 2012 – Twenty-one children from the disaster-affected city of Rikuzentakata in northeastern Japan will visit Yokosuka Naval Base on March 30-April 1, 2012 for a special homestay event that will include sports activities. This activity was initiated and coordinated by the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, the TOMODACHI Initiative, the city of Rikuzentakata, and the non-profit organization Aid TAKATA, with the cooperation of officials and families of the Yokosuka Naval Base.
The homestay event is a very rare opportunity that will allow children from the disaster area to get to know families of U.S. Navy service members, many of whom participated in “Operation Tomodachi” which provided humanitarian aid to Rikuzentakata and Tohoku in the aftermath of the March 11, 2011 earthquake. The activity is designed to help lift the spirits of the young children during a difficult time in their lives, and provide a unique way for them to interact with Americans and experience American culture without having to venture too far from Japan.
Participating children range from 12 to 13 years of age and will be hosted by about 15 families living on the base. The children and their host families will participate in sports activities, as well as tour the aircraft carrier USS George Washington.
Rikuzentakata was one of the communities most devastated by the tsunami of March 11, 2011. Over 2,000 of its citizens lost their lives during the disaster, which destroyed the town’s center.
Rikuzentaka Mayor Futoshi Toba also helped to inspire the TOMODACHI Initiative. During a conversation with U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos last year, Mayor Toba was asked how the American people could best help his and other towns throughout the Tohoku region. After thinking about this question for several weeks, Mayor Toba replied that he would like to give young people hope for the future and help them see beyond the devastation and tragedy that surrounded them through opportunities to experience the United States and learn English.
TOMODACHI is a public-private partnership, led by the United States Government and the U.S.-Japan Council and supported by the Japanese Government, that supports Japan’s recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake and invests in the next generation of Japanese and Americans in ways that strengthen cultural and economic ties and deepen the friendship between the United States and Japan over the long-term.