|On March 4, the TOMODACHI Initiative hosted a reception to commemorate the fifth year since the Great East Japan Earthquake. At the reception, TOMODACHI and its partners announced further support for the rebuilding of Tohoku and the fostering of next generation leaders.
The event featured a signing ceremony for the “Memorandum of Cooperation on Enhanced Partnership in Support of the TOMODACHI Initiative Between the Government of Japan and the U.S.-Japan Council” with Miki Yamada, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), representing the Government of Japan, and Irene Hirano Inouye, USJC President. The Memorandum formally established the relationship between TOMODACHI and MOFA—a relationship which has already existed unofficially for several years. In conjunction with this, MOFA appointed Ambassador Masaharu Kohno as the Government of Japan’s Senior Advisor to the TOMODACHI Initiative.
Prior to the signing ceremony, a roundtable discussion was held with TOMODACHI alumni from Tohoku, representatives from the Government of Japan and the U.S. Embassy, and Irene Hirano Inouye. Topics included the progress made in rebuilding Tohoku, the activities and impact of TOMODACHI to date, and the roles of the young people from Tohoku and beyond who will become future leaders.
Since TOMODACHI’s establishment in 2012, there have been over 4,600 program participants, with over 2,600 from the Tohoku region.