Friday, March 9, 2018

2018 3.11 Events in Boston

This year marks the seventh anniversary of the tsunami, earthquake, and nuclear disaster that happened in Japan on March 11, 2011. Although the world's attention has turned to more recent natural disasters, the Tohoku region continues to struggle with rebuilding efforts as many residents  remain in temporary housing. Civil servants from around the country have been working on reconstruction in 42 municipalities but "will be scaled back by 21 percent in fiscal 2018 from the current year’s level, according to a study by The Asahi Shimbun", making the work more difficult for the remaining employees. This does not bode well for reconstruction projects which have faced delays which have contributed to the region's ongoing economic issues. Residents living in temporary housing have faced serious mental health issues, with the number of deaths of residents living alone in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima increasing dramatically in 2017 to 53 (up from one in 2013 and 14 in 2015).

Clean up at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant continues, but has faced numerous setbacks, including radiation levels so high that robots become inoperable after several hours inside the reactors.

Since 2014 I have posted an annual list of 3.11 events in the Boston area but I have learned that most events have been discontinued. As far as I know, Tewassa, a Cambridge-based volunteer organization, is the only group holding a 3.11 memorial event in the Greater Boston area this year. 

Harvard University has been hosting talks on 3.11 since the disaster. This year's talk, "Recovering Agency: The Politics of Reconstruction in Post-Tsunami Tohoku" occurred last month on February 13th and is available as a podcast. The talk was delivered by Andrew Littlejohn, postdoctoral tellow in the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations with Prof. Daniel Aldrich from Northeastern University serving as discussant. Prof. Aldrich's work on resilience in post-disaster recovery areas around the globe is really interesting and worth exploring if you have an interest in disaster recovering and building resilience even in non-disaster areas.

3.11 Memorial Event

Tewassa, a Cambridge-based volunteer group that produces "message quilts" for schools and organizations in the Tōhoku region, will be holding their annual memorial event.

Date & Time
Saturday, March 10, 2018
2:00 - 4:00pm

GrayMist Studio & Shop
364 Huron Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Public Transit & Parking
GrayMist is accessible by the 72 and 75 buses from Harvard Square. There is free on-street parking along Huron Ave. and neighboring streets.

HOME Exhibit

Students from Tohoku University of Art and Design installed an art and friendship exhibit titled "HOME" at the Boston Children's Museum to mark the anniversary of 3.11.
"HOME” is an exhibit that explores the meaning and influence of home from the perspective of Japanese students. The exhibit will showcase artwork created by the students of the “Art Thinking” project team at Tohoku University of Art & Design (TUAD) in Japan. This is their sixth annual international friendship project bringing their art exhibition and hands-on activity programs to Boston.
Using the theme HOME, the artists encourage Museum visitors to explore how home shapes identity, a sense of belonging, and responsibility toward others. This gallery exhibition asks the visitors “What is the definition of home to you?” and “What makes your home special?”

In this gallery exhibition, located next to the Museum’s Japanese House exhibit, an authentic 100-year old house from Kyoto, Japan, the artworks will share the ideas of today’s multifaceted youth culture of Japan, and demonstrate each individual’s thoughts and narratives. Through their art expressions, they share their unique own identities and stories.

The Art Thinking project is part of TUAD’s school curricula and research to create a space for community building through art experience. Artists in this show are students from the Tohoku region of Japan, where many of them witnessed and experienced the loss of homes and hometowns during the earthquake and tsunami of 2011. Through the art, these students search for the meaning of home and welcome Museum visitors to share ideas.

Date & Time
Open through Sunday, September 30, 2018
Please see museum's website for hours.

Boston Children's Museum, Japanese House Gallery 
308 Congress St., Boston, MA 02210

Please see the museum's website for admission details.
Please note that "Adults unaccompanied by children must leave proper photo identification at the Admissions Desk. Examples: State Driver’s License or Passport."

Monday, February 19, 2018

Film: Resistance at Tule Lake @ Tufts University

The Tufts Japanese Culture Club and Tufts United for Immigrant Justice will be screening Konrad Aderer's film Resistance at Tule Lake for their annual Day of Remembrance event titled "Incarceration and Resistance". Every year Japanese Americans around the United States commemorate February 19th, the day that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, the executive order that paved the way for the unjust incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese immigrants in a vast network of incarceration camps.

Tule Lake was the largest and most infamous of the camps. At its peak it housed nearly 19,000 prisoners and was the site of significant unrest. While the camp started out with the same status as other camps, it was eventually designated a "segregation center" where prisoners deemed disloyal by the so-called "Loyalty Questionnaire" were separated from their families and moved from other camps. (The official title of the document was "Selective Service Form 304A / Statement of United States Citizen of Japanese Ancestry".)

This is Konrad's second feature length documentary about the Japanese American incarceration. Although his family was incarcerated at other camps, he told me that he chose Tule Lake as the subject of his film because he said he's always been interested in the Japanese and Japanese Americans who resisted. Resistance at Tule Lake was last year's Centerpiece Film at the 9th annual Boston Asian American Film Festival and was screened earlier this month at the Museum of Fine Arts as part of their Boston Festival of Films From Japan.

Date & Time
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
6:00 - 8:00pm

Tufts University
Aidekman Arts Center
Alumnae Lounge
40 Talbot Ave., Medford, MA 02155
Directions & Parking


Note: Dinner will be served. Film screening followed by panel discussion with students whose families were incarcerated in Japanese American incarceration camps.


Resistance at Tule Lake

2017 | 80 mins | Documentary | Japanese-American
Directed by Konrad Aderer
Resistance at Tule Lake tells the long-suppressed story of 12,000 Japanese Americans who dared to resist the U.S. government’s program of mass incarceration during World War II. Branded as “disloyals” and re-imprisoned at Tule Lake Segregation Center, they continued to protest in the face of militarized violence, and thousands renounced their U.S. citizenship. Giving voice to experiences that have been marginalized for over 70 years, this documentary challenges the nationalist, one-sided ideal of wartime “loyalty.”
Resistance at Tule Lake premiered early 2017 and continues to screen in various film festivals, museum exhibitions, educational institutions and local community organizations. The documentary will be broadcast nationally in 2018 and made available for educational, institutional and home use as a DVD and other formats including Internet viewing.