Manoa event highlights lessons learned by Japanís 2011 tsunami survivors

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Cindy Scheopner, (808) 956-8999
Social Sciences, Office of the Dean
Dan Meisenzahl, (808) 348-4936
Spokesman, University of Hawaii System
Posted: Sep 16, 2016

Video link to broll and soundbites of event for tsunami kids and host families -

(more information below)  

UH Mānoa, in partnership with Tohoku University and the International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS), is hosting a disaster risk reduction conference on September 16-17. The conference is a pre-event of the first United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction’s (UNISDR) World Tsunami Awareness Day on November 5, 2016.  

Jointly sponsored by UH Mānoa’s College of Social Sciences and the UH Sea Grant College Program, as well as IRIDeS, the two-day event is titled “Communicating Disaster Science.”  Event highlights include:

  • Opening ceremony honoring the strong ties between Hawai‘i and Japan:  In 2011, children from the affected regions of Japan were brought to Hawai’i for respite. During this ceremony, three of these individuals will share their personal stories since the disaster and give thanks to the host families and the people of Hawai‘i for their support. Ceremony attendees include Ronald Kouchi, President, Hawai‘i State Senate; Teru Fukui, Japan House of Representatives; Peter Hirai, Department of Emergency Management representing Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell; Yasushi Misawa, Consul General of Japan; Velma Kameoka, Interim Associate Vice Chancellor representing University of Hawai‘i President David Lassner; and Yuichi Ono, IRIDeS Assistant Director with a video message from Director Fumihiko Imamura.
  • Academic forum:  At the forum, national and international disaster science experts will share the most recent advances in tsunami research, risk reduction and community preparedness, including changes in the way that Hawai‘i prepares for natural disasters, and the threat to the islands from Aleutian Island earthquakes.
  • U.S. premiere of "The Great Tsunami in Japan: Reflecting on the 2011 Disaster": The two-day conference will culminate with the U.S. premiere of “The Great Tsunami” film. This poignant documentary explores the magnitude of the March 11 tsunami through dramatic video collected immediately after impact. Woven through the footage are the personal stories of survivors and the humble but resolute spirit of these individuals who inhabit this disaster-prone region of Japan.

Said College of Social Sciences Dean Denise Eby Konan, "The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and Tohoku University have collaborated on research and scholarly exchanges since the 2011 Japan tsunami and earthquake. It is, therefore, especially meaningful to host this conference in coordination with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction’s first World Tsunami Awareness Day. We are also honored to present the U.S. premiere of 'The Great Tsunami' documentary as part of these efforts. The film serves as a poignant visual reminder of the importance of the continued dedication of resources for the  advancement of disaster science and risk reduction."

Teru Fukui of the Japan House of Representatives was instrumental in working with United Nations General Assembly in establishing November 5th as the annual World Tsunami Awareness Day. World Tsunami Awareness Day acknowledges that tsunamis know no borders, thus making international cooperation key to the development of deeper political and public understanding of disaster risk reduction measures. This year’s theme is effective education and evacuation drills.

The selection of November 5th commemorates “Inamura-no-hi” or the “burning of the rice sheaves.” In 1854, a Japan farmer saw the tide receding after an earthquake. To warn the villagers of the impending tsunami, he set fire to his harvested rice. His warning saved the lives of the villagers, who fled to high ground. After the tsunami, the community rebuilt itself but included features such as embankments and the planting of a buffer of trees to protect the area from future shocks.

Video link to broll and soundbites of event for tsunami kids and host families -

BROLL (1 minute, 44 seconds) :

  • Wide shot of three tsunami kids speaking 
  • Tight shot of tsunami kid speaking
  • Wide of audience
  • Medium of the three tsunami students
  • Audience cutaway
  • Host family receiving recogntion
  • Crowd cutaway
  • Host family receiving recognition
  • Group shot
  • Japanese media interview kids and host families
  • Thirty seconds of the "Great Tsunami in Japan" documentary

(Link to minute, 37 second long version of documentary trailer: )


Wakaba Aita - Rainbow for Japan kid (9 seconds - she was 16 when she came and is now 22)

"I'm glad to meet our host families again. So I am so appreciative for, um, I am happy."

Susan Engebretson - Hosted Wakaba Aita

"She's happy. Mostly she's happy. She's intelligent and it just, put it all together, we are just so proud, just so happy, that she's continued on this path of well-being. And she is going to be teacher!"

Marked by leadership, excellence and innovation, the College of Social Sciences (CSS) at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa provides students with a culturally diverse experience that transforms them into bold, engaged global citizens who affect change, break down barriers, touch lives and succeed in a multi-cultural context. Its student-centered environment id dedicated to providing students with a vibrant academic climate that affords exciting, intense interaction among students and faculty as they address fundamental questions about human behavior. Featuring outstanding scholarship through internships, active and service learning approaches to teaching, and an international focus particularly in the Asia Pacific region, it prepares students to become leaders in public and private enterprises throughout Hawai‘i and Asia.

The University of Hawai’i Sea Grant College Program is part of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s prestigious School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. It supports an innovative program of research, education, and extension services directed to the improved understanding and stewardship of coastal and marine resources of the state, region, and nation. Science serving Hawai’i and the Pacific since 1968.

MORE ABOUT Tohoku University established the International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS)
Tohoku University established the International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS) after Japan’s catastrophic disaster in 2011. Today IRIDeS conducts research on natural disaster science and disaster mitigation in collaboration with organizations from around the world. IRIDeS contributes to on-going recovery/reconstruction efforts in the affected areas, conducts action-oriented research, and pursues effective disaster management to build sustainable and resilient societies.