archive, asahi shinbun, media, university

Students offer info about post-quake efforts in 22 languages, asahi, 3/26/12

By TAKUYA KITAZAWA/ Staff Writer
Twenty students at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies have produced a multi-lingual website about areas hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

The site, called Tohoku10×26windows, gives information on the activities of 10 groups based in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures and offers translations into 22 languages, including English, German, Vietnamese and Polish. Pages in Czech, Burmese, Urdu and Arabic are in the pipeline, which will bring the total languages to the title’s “26 windows.”

“We aim to transmit the news directly from the disaster areas to the world,” said one student involved in the project.

The site was created by 20 undergraduate and graduate students who worked as volunteers in the disaster zone and felt they had to do something to help the people in the area after they returned to Tokyo.

“We felt we wanted to give information on what is happening right now in the disaster areas and tell people about the work that is going into reconstruction,” the group’s leader, Taichi Tanaka, 24, said.

The site focuses on local organizations established in the wake of the earthquake rather than established nongovernmental and nonprofit organizations.

Each group was asked to present its work using about 10 photos, explain how and why it was established and to share its thoughts about reconstruction.

The entry for Onagawa Fukko Maru, a group set up by people in their 20s in Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, includes photos of smiling local residents taken at a live outdoor concert organized by the group. The accompanying text says: “I hope the day will come as soon as possible when we can all laugh from our hearts.”

The creators of the site said the hardest part of the work was the translation. A total of about 150 people, including group members, other students, graduates of the university and foreign students, took part and some language sites are still under construction.

The organizers say they plan to eventually cover all 26 languages provided at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.

“Some may think the dust has settled in the disaster areas after a year, but, in reality, the areas keep moving,” Tanaka said. “I want people to feel the reality of what is going on there.”

Ginga Tamura, who is in charge of public relations, said he hoped the site would provide information the mainstream media does not cover.

“There are lots of things, other than media reports, that locals want to actively transmit,” said Tamura, 24. “We want to support them by continuously updating the site and changing the photos.”

The URL of the site is (http://www.tufs.ac.jp/st/club/tohoku260windows/)

About liz

from the u.s., recently moved from kobe to sendai, japan, researching community-based housing recovery after disaster.

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