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When Hidetaka Niiyama traveled to his home country of Japan in September, he saw how the devastation from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami still was having a big effect.
“After six months, I would have expected more of a recovery,” said Niiyama, who lives in Columbus and works at Honda in Greensburg.
Although his family is from Chiba and did not endure the brunt of the disasters, he has a friend who is from Sendai, where many lost their lives and residents still are living in evacuation centers.
Last year, Niiyama was part of a group that organized a fundraiser in Columbus to help send support to disaster victims. This year, he is the lead organizer for another fundraiser Saturday and Sunday in downtown Columbus with a more concentrated goal.
Proceeds will help Eastern Japanese fisheries in Minami-Sanriku.
“I wanted to pick a small focus so the public would see clearly where the money was going,” he said of the festival.
Niiyama said a project leader from a Japan fishery wrote him, saying the disaster-hit area had shifted from a survival to revival focus.
Eastern Japan had one of the best fishing businesses in Japan, but the disasters destroyed the livelihood of many.
To prevent future destruction of property, many businesses in coastal towns also were not allowed to rebuild their permanent structures, so temporary refrigerated containers to hold fish are needed.
Niiyama said he has had financial support from the Japanese businesses in Columbus, and the Columbus Symphony Orchestra board of directors has served as an organizing group.
Mayor Kristen Brown in a written statement congratulated the companies that are part of the Columbus Japanese Business Association for their efforts in helping businesses in Japan rebound after the earthquake and tsunami.
“This festival is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the Japanese culture and help communities rebuild,” Brown stated.
Sponsors for the event are CAPCO, Enkei America, Honda Trading America Corp., Kamic Corp., Nagakura Engineering Works, Nakashima Indiana Manufacturing, Nikkei MC Aluminum America and Sunright America.
Niiyama said he wants the festival to be a very uplifting event and not dwell on the sadness from the disasters.
“I want to have something very positive and have people here enjoy the entertainment,” he said.
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