Wednesday 18 March 2015

Singapore Red Cross delivers final rebuilding project in Japan after 2011 disaster

TODAY, 16 Mar 2015

Four years after an earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, the Singapore Red Cross (SRC) has delivered its final rebuilding project to the community: A multi-purpose community hall that will serve more than 20,000 residents of Rikuzentakata City, Iwate Prefecture.

The community hall was one of the four major rebuilding projects undertaken with donations from the Singapore public following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.

Formally opened today (March 16) by the SRC, together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and local Rikuzentakata City officials, the 2,000 sqm hall, costing S$11.1 million, is the single largest reconstruction projects of the SRC in Japan, said the SRC in a statement today.

Built on elevated grounds and housing a community hall, meeting rooms and exhibition spaces, among others, it is also designed to enhance Rikuzentakata City’s disaster preparedness by integrating with the city’s fire and police departments, and serving as a Disaster Relief Centre.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law K Shanmugam, who was the Guest-of-Honour at the ceremony, said: “Our sympathy and unity with Japan led to a tremendous outpouring of support and contribution to help the victims of the disaster. The donation drive supported by the government and launched by SRC raised over S$35 million.

“This is either the largest or second largest amount ever contributed by Singaporeans for a disaster in a foreign city. We decided that our contribution should be channelled to projects that would benefit the local community.”

Mr Benjamin William, Secretary General of SRC, said: “I still recall with a certain pride the overwhelming response from the people of Singapore when Singapore Red Cross launched the appeal. It was this show of solidarity and enduring friendship by the people of Singapore towards the affected communities, that made the reconstruction and other relief efforts possible.”

“Even though this is the final major project to be handed over, SRC continues to work with our local partners in japan to see how we can enhance some of the completed projects, as well as, embark on additional projects to serve the affected community,” he added.

Mayor of Rikuzentakata Futoshi Toba said: “The aid we received from people throughout the Japan and around the world truly sustained us after the disaster. We lived in a city where we did not even have one piece of bread to hand out to our citizens.

“Our city has recovered and will continue to do so because of the aid we received, and for that I am truly grateful. To have this friendship with the people of Singapore, to have received this aid from your country is a sign of the best humankind has to offer and for that as well I extend my thanks.”

In the aftermath of the earthquake, SRC launched an appeal and received S$35.7 million from the Singapore public, including S$500,000 seed money contributed by the Singapore Government.

SRC has funded the construction of other facilities in the affected Tohoku region, including the Taro Support Centre in Miyako City that was completed in November 2011 and serves 1,700 residents monthly, the 90-student Shichigahama Toyama Nursery School that was officially opened in May 2013, as well as the Isobe Community Centre, that was up and running in July 2013.

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