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Candlelight memorials held on 3rd anniversary of Japan quake
Central News Agency
2014-03-11 10:13 PM
Taipei, March 11 (CNA) Candlelight memorial services were held simultaneously in Taiwan and Japan Tuesday to mark the third anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck northeastern Japan in 2011, the organizers said that day. The services were held at the Chung Shan Creative Hub in Taipei and in Japan's Fukushima Prefecture in commemoration of the victims of the disaster, said Lily Ikeda, the chief organizer of the Taipei memorial. About 500 candles were prepared for the Taipei event, which were mostly hand-made by residents of Fukushima, one of the hardest-hit areas, said Ikeda -- herself a Fukushima native -- who came to Taiwan for the second year to organize memorial events for the victims. People attending could also write blessings on their candles before lighting them. "Wishes for Fukushima residents to be well," a message on one of the candles read. Participants also observed a minute of silence in memory of those who died. A concert by Japanese musicians was later staged, with burning candles arranged in the Chinese characters for Japan and Taiwan, as well as in the shape of a heart. "I hope the Japanese people in the affected areas will be strong and look forward to the future as the reconstruction continues," said Lisa Yang, a Taiwanese woman who came to the event. "Time will heal," said Yang, 50, who also suffered during the 7.3-magnitude earthquake that struck central Taiwan Sept. 21, 1999. "A friend in need is a friend indeed," said Kenichi Okada, secretary-general of the Interchange Association's Taipei Office, while expressing gratitude for Taiwan's post-disaster support and assistance. The association represents Japan's interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties. The memorial services in Taipei and Fukushima were also broadcast live to connect the participants on both sides, Ikeda said. The candlelight service in Taipei was one of a series of memorial events Ikeda has planned for this year. Other activities included a photo exhibition at Chung Shan Creative Hub featuring the lives of Fukushima residents who are trying to get back on their feet, as well as a display of traditional handicrafts from there. Many people have come to equate Fukushima Prefecture with radiation contamination because of the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant after the 2011 disaster, Ikeda said. "I want to introduce different aspects of Fukushima, such as its culture, to the people of Taiwan," she said, while explaining the program. Ikeda is an artist who also works as a Japanese-Chinese interpreter and translator. The 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami killed nearly 20,000 people, mainly in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures. In the wake of the disaster, Taiwan donated some US$260 million in aid to Japan, more than any other single country. (By Elaine Hou)
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