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One Lifetime, Everlasting Kizuna

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Fukushima. When I hear that name, all I can think of are smiles etched on the faces of possibly the most gracious people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. I think of unification and happiness; hospitality and laughter. When I hear Fukushima, all I can think of is the kizuna between everyone there and the kizuna we formed with them.

When I went to Kitashiobara Village through the Kizuna Exchange Program, I expected to see disaster and despair, but what I really saw was a place filled with people that shared strong kizuna or bonds between one another and who were willing to share these bonds with us. Their generosity and welcoming nature enabled us to form kizuna that we would cherish for the rest of our lives.

According to the Japan Times, Fukushima’s Iitate Village was once home to six thousand residents, but now the village is completely abandoned and become a “ghost town” after the Great East Japan Earthquake. Despite the fact that government officials are cleaning the village to get all the villagers back in their houses, the media has not proved helpful in their involvement. After visiting the beautiful Tohoku region myself, I was shocked to read that the Japan Times observed the tourist industry in the Tohoku region to have decreased by eighty percent since the nuclear disaster because of the reputational damage that the region has endured.

Despite the increasingly outspoken nuclear protests, many peaceful groups have also formed. For instance, the Japan Times writes about a relief facility made up of Tohoku’s foreign wives dedicated to helping many of the disaster victims. Founded and led by Filipino wife and mother, Gina Konishi, the group was started in Ofunato in Iwate Prefecture after the family had lost their home from the tsunami. Since then, the foreign wives of the Japanese men in the area formed an association to care for everyone else in the area. Although their headquarters is in a church, the group is open to people of all race and religion, truly unifying not only the Japanese people, but also the people of the disaster area.

This story acts as a good springboard to discussing America and Japan because despite many of their cultural differences, it is also important to examine what makes them similar. Both nations are filled with people that want to help others, and I think that’s exactly why Japan-U.S. relations are so strong. It’s because both nations share the same moral values that grants them the opportunity to build such a strong kizuna.

By the same token, I would also like to ask my host family if they too believe America and Japan have similar values. I think their perspective from a cultural view might be very different; however, I truly believe my host family will agree with me from a moral view in that America and Japan have similar moral values. These shared moral values are the epitome of America and Japan’s common goal: global prosperity.



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