Five Years After the Great East Japan Earthquake, 3-11 and 9-11 Survivors Share Their Stories at Asia Society, March 8

3-11 and 9-11 Survivor Stories
The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami: Five Years Later

Asia Society New York (725 Park Avenue at 70th Street)
March 8 at 6:30pm
$30 for non-members; $25 for students/seniors; $20 for members


NEW YORK, February 22, 2016 — On March 8, five years after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, survivors of that tragedy will join 9-11 first responders, victims and family members at Asia Society to discuss a powerful outreach program that has transcended borders.

Beginning in 2012, members of the New York-based 9/11 Tribute Center traveled to Tohoku, Japan on missions of compassion and community outreach to share their own experiences of tragedy, loss, recovery and resilience. For four years, these family members, survivors and first responders of the two disasters have traveled back and forth between Japan and the U.S. in an exchange that has yielded profound, life-changing results.

“After 9-11 we received all kinds of support from people around the world, and we knew how much that lifted our spirits,” said Lee Ielpi, president of the Board of Directors for the September 11th Families’ Association and co-founder of the 9/11 Tribute Center. “When the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster hit northeastern Japan on March 11, I realized we might be able to go there and offer encouragement by sharing our stories. We have evolved in many ways since 9-11, and we wanted to give hope to the survivors in Tohoku. The dialogues we have had with them over the past for years have grown ever deeper and are uplifting for both of our communities.”

“3-11 and 9-11: Survivor Stories” will feature representatives from the two communities, a short documentary film, and a conversation about the power of human connection and healing. A reception follows the program.

“Just as Americans will forever remember where they were on September 11, 2001, so the Japanese remember March 11, 2011,” said Asia Society Executive Vice President Tom Nagorski, who will moderate the program on March 8. “Indeed, all of humanity was dealt a severe blow, in different ways, on those two dates, and the long days that followed for both nations. But it is also the case that there were examples of incredible resilience in the aftermath of 9-11 and 3-11. In this program we will be celebrating a U.S.-Japan partnership built on resilience, and the best there is in the human spirit.”

Support for this program is made in part by the generous contribution of Mitsubishi Corporation (Americas).

“3-11 and 9-11: Survivor Stories” is part of “Season of Japan,” held in conjunction with the exhibition “Kamakura: Realism and Spirituality in the Sculpture of Japan,” on view at Asia Society Museum from February 9 to May 8, 2016.

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About the speakers

Keizo Hara, MD, a local psychiatrist, established the Kara-Koro (Mind and Body) Clinic in Ishinomaki, where the tsunami reached 33 feet high and killed more than 3,000 people on 3-11.

Toshiko Hasegawa is a member of Tokyo Fire Department and a friend of the FDNY for 20 years. She is dedicated to helping promote the “9-11 to 3-11” missions of compassion throughout northeast Japan.

Ann Van Hine, who spent her most of her professional career teaching children, lost her husband, FDNY member Bruce Van Hine, on 9-11. Ann brought to Japan messages from children in New York wishing strength and courage.

Craig L. Katz, MD is a disaster psychiatrist and directs the Global Mental Health Center at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He founded the World Trade Center Mental Health Program after 9-11.

Stephen Kern is an attorney for the Port Authority of NY and NJ, survived 9-11 by walking down 62 flights in the North Tower seconds before it collapsed. In Japan, he found parallels to his experiences after 9-11

Sho Takahashi, MD, PhD and his disaster psychiatry team at University of Tsukuba have been assisting “9-11 to 3-11” missions in relations to other disasters around the world.

Robert T. Yanagisawa, MD is vice president of the Japanese Medical Society of America. Partnering with Dr. Katz, they have introduced a multidisciplinary approach for long-term disaster recovery in the Tohoku region.

Tom Nagorski (moderator) is the executive vice president of Asia Society.