Remembering 3/11: The Great East Japan Earthquake

On March 11, 2011 a tragedy of unprecedented proportions struck Japan. The magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake, and the tsunami and nuclear accidents that followed, wreaked havoc on Japan’s northeastern coast. More than 15,000 lives were lost in the disaster, and hundreds of thousands were displaced when their homes were destroyed.

Two years later, the Kizuna Project has emerged to empower and provide life-changing opportunities for young Japanese affected by the disaster. Through this unique international exchange program, Cultural Vistas, in partnership with the Japanese government, endeavors to strengthen the unique bond shared between the United States and Japan.

The Kizuna Project will welcome more than 50 Japanese university students and recent graduates to the United States at the end of March for 2.5 months of English language training in New York City and Washington, D.C. prior to beginning career-focused internships across the country.

This fully-funded, six-month training and cultural exchange program will provide these individuals with opportunities not only to learn and develop new skills, but also to promote understanding of Japan’s renewed spirit.

To commemorate the two-year anniversary of the March 11 disaster, we are honored to share a few of their perspectives and stories. While there is sadness and pain following what happened that day, there is also hope in the stories of a nation coming together, with volunteers from across the country – and indeed, the world – aiding in the relief efforts.

Earthquake aftermath in Ishinomaki. Photo by Abe Marika.
Remembering 3/11:
Perspectives from Japan

Volunteers clear a field in Iwate. Photo by Joy K. Young.
Remembering 3/11:
Volunteer Stories


The Kizuna Project is funded by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and administered by Cultural Vistas in cooperation with the Laurasian Institution, The Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, Japan International Cooperation Center, and Japan-U.S. Educational Commission.

Cultural Vistas’ Kizuna Project is part of a larger scale initiative facilitating a number of exchanges between Japan and countries that have supported its disaster relief efforts.