On the 20th July 2011, a ceremony was held to commemorate the victims—and to honour the survivors—of the recent Great East Japan Earthquake & Tsunami of 11th March 2011.
It was my honour & privilege to design and create a traditional Japanese commemoration garden at the premises of Medhold and Rescue South Africa – who sent equipment and a large team of skilled rescue workers to assist mainly in the Miyagi Prefecture in the weeks after the earthquake. The Japanese Ambassador to SA, Mr Toshiro Ozawa and the South African Ambassador to Japan, Mr Gert Grobler (who flew in especially for the ceremony) unveiled a commemoration plaque and planted a traditional Japanese cherry tree (one of 4 donated by the Embassy) in the garden. The ceremony and plaque also celebrate the centenary year of relations between the nation of Japan and South Africa. Press and media were there in full force to cover the event and members of the Japanese community in SA were also present. Children from the Japanese school presented CEO of Rescue South Africa, Mr Ian Scher, with a large hand-made ARIGATO (thank you) collage. The Embassy also presented Ian with a large framed photograph of the 45 strong rescue team taken at OR Tambo Airport, 16th March 2011, just prior to their departure for Japan. In speaking with everyone involved who went to Japan to assist, one thing was constantly emphasized – the strength, pride, solidarity and resilience of the Japanese nation in the face of adversity.