“Updates from Tohoku” Event in Boston Draws Big Crowd

The US-Japan Council’s New England Members commemorated the Great East Japan Earthquake with an inspiring night of “Updates from Tohoku & A Night of Remembrance: A Journey to a New Life,” on March 31. Hosted by the Fish Family Foundation, where Member of the USJC Board of Directors Atsuko Fish serves as a Trustee, the evening’s program offered reflection, insights and inspiration to a packed house at Boston’s Berklee College of Music.

USJC President Irene Hirano Inouye opened the program with an explanation of USJC’s work to support Tohoku, and an update on her participation in the recent 3rd UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Sendai, Japan. Consul General of Boston Tsutomu Himeno offered warm greetings, with a moving reminder of the losses suffered on March 11, 2011.

Shun Kanda sharing his plan for rebuilding Tohoku

The program continued with three Tohoku updates. Council Member Shun Kanda, Director of the MIT Japan 3/11 Initiative, offered his vision for an innovative rebuilding plan that would better serve the community’s needs based on his deep engagement in the Minamisanriku community.

Council Member Anne Nishimura Morse, William and Helen Pounds Senior Curator of Japanese Art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, provided fascinating insights into artistic responses to March 11th through work she collected and curated at the museum’s new exhibit, “In the Wake: Japanese Photographers Respond to 3/11.”

USJC Friend of the Council, Megumi Ishimoto, next inspired the audience with an update on the work that the NPO she founded, Women’s Eye, has accomplished to support women in Tohoku, especially those in temporary housing. Megumi credited both the TOMODACHI NGO Leadership Program supported by J.P. Morgan, as well as the Japan Women’s Leadership Initiative supported by the Fish Family Foundation, for providing the resources to expand her NPO’s work within the community, and to launch an International Grassroots Women’s Academy in Tohoku.

Consul General Himeno & Shun Kanda

Consul General Himeno & Shun Kanda

Upcoming event for the 4th anniversary of 3.11

Today we mark the fourth anniversary of the 3.11 disaster.  To commemorate this milestone, we invite those local to Boston to attend:


Updates from Tohoku & A Night of Remembrance

Tuesday March 31, 2015
6pm – 8pm
The Red Room at Cafe 939

Berklee College of Music
939 Boylston Street, Boston

Free and open to the public
Register at Eventbrite.

“Updates from Tohoku, a journey to new life,” is a commemoration of the fourth anniversary of 3.11, the disaster that occurred on March 11, 2011 in the Tohoku region of Japan and affected nearly 500,000 people.

The event highlights individuals and projects working in northeastern Japan since 3.11, including our own Shun Kanda in a talk titled “Beyond 2020_nx: A Vision for the Next Generation.”  He is joined by Anne Nishimura Morse, curator of Japanese art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Megumi Ishimoto, founder and executive director of the NPO Women’s Eye.  There will also be performances by Berklee student recipients of the TOMODACHI Suntory music scholarship.

Hosted by the Consulate-General of Japan in Boston, Berklee College of Music, Fish Family Foundation, Japan Society of Boston, and the U.S.-Japan Council/TOMODACHI Initiative

Event at MIT: BEYOND 3.11 on Thursday 3/14 at 6pm

Please join MIT graduate and undergraduate students and the Japanese Society of Undergraduates (JSU) for a talk and reception at MIT to hear updates from Tohoku as we observe the 2nd anniversary of the 2010 earthquake and tsunami.

When: 6:00 pm on Thursday, March 14, 2013
Where: MIT Student Center Room 407 (Building W20)
Open to the general public 
RSVP: Link (http://goo.gl/DeTUJ) or Facebook page
(Space is limited, so please RSVP) 


  • Richard J. Samuels, Ford International Professor of Political Science; Director of the Center for International Studies, MIT
  • Shun Kanda, Senior Lecturer, Department of Architecture; Director, MIT Japan 3.11 Initiative
  • Mio Yamamoto, Co-Founder and Director of World in Asia; Class of 2013, MIT Sloan School of Management

“Using 3.11 for Policy Change” by Richard J. Samuels

Japanese political entrepreneurs used the catastrophe in Tohoku to nudge national policy in their preferred direction by constructing narratives and assigning blame for 3.11.   Battles among competing perspectives on change and contested appeals to leadership, community, and risk have defined post-3.11 politics and public policy in Japan, particularly in the areas of national security, energy policy, and local governance.

“BEYOND 3.11″ by Shun Kanda

3 INSIGHTs_Toward Disaster-Resilient & Sustainable Futures for Minamisanriku; a report on the on-going work by the US and Japan-based MIT 3.11 Initiative team as we apprise our assistance continuing into the third year of recovery in Tohoku.

“Social Innovation from Tohoku” by Mio Yamamoto

How social entrepreneurs are addressing pressing social problems such as education, job creation, healthcare in Touhoku in collaboration with the private and public sectors. 

For more information, contact: Mio Yamamoto, mioy AT mit DOT edu 

‘Power of People’ looks to Minami-Sanriku’s future

Shun Kanda recently gave a lecture at MIT to a group of students from Tohoku entitled “Power of Place, of People, as One.”  He showcased the recently completed Garden Pavilione in Baba-Nakayama and the community-driven initiatives that have developed in the wake of 3/11.  Also featured were creative ideas and new typologies for the future of coastal towns in Tohoku as they move to higher ground.

The students are all survivors of the 3/11 disaster who have joined the non-profit organization, Beyond Tomorrow.  They are visiting the US to obtain first-hand accounts from leaders in New Orleans, New York, and Washington D.C.  Their Boston visit was sponsored by the Fish Family Foundation.

A similar lecture was also given at University of Tokyo on July 29th, at the start of the Japan 3/11 Design Workshop.

Video from the MIT Media Lab Symposium ‘Japan Under Reconstruction’ Now Online

The video from Professor Shun Kanda’s presentation at the MIT Media Lab’s ‘Japan Under Reconstruction’ symposium on April 7th, 2012, is now available to view online.  Kanda spoke at the Symposium, along with Joi Ito, Hirosih Ishii, and Kent Larson from the MIT Media Lab, along with Hirotaka Takeuchi from the Harvard Business School.

Fall 2011 MIT ACT lecture now online

We now have the opportunity to view online Shun Kanda and Jim Wescoat’s November lecture on the Japan 3/11 Initiative and the “Beauty of Place” in the reconstruction process.

The professors had spoken as part of the Fall 2011 “Zones of Emergency” lecture series, hosted by the MIT Art, Culture and Technology (ACT) Program.

Wescoat and Kanda on the “Beauty of Place”

Professors Shun Kanda and James Wescoat talked about their intervention in the tsunami hardest hit town of Minami-Sanriku in Japan. An intervention, MIT Japan 3/11, was created right after the disastrous tsunami that hit Japan in March this year. The images of the damage formed the collage of our news images for many days and many posts on Facebook read, ‘God Save Japan’. The presentation titled, “Beauty of Place: An Overnight Tragedy” described how overwhelming the task was. MIT collaborated with two universities in Japan, Miyagi University and Keio University. Continue reading