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Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014

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Japan vigil McDavis

President McDavis participates in the candlelight vigil for the Japanese tsunami victims

Photographer: Kevin Riddell

Japan cherry blossoms

Japanese cherry blossoms

Photographer: Kevin Riddell

Japan students vigil

Students remember the victims of the tsunami

Photographer: Kevin Riddell

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University honors victims of recent earthquake, tsunami


Members of the Ohio University community gathered yesterday for a ceremony in memory of the victims and in support of the survivors of Japan's recent earthquake and tsunami.

The 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Japan on March 11, triggering a tsunami that devastated Japan's northeast coast.

The ceremony included brief remarks, a candle lighting and a moment of silence in honor and memory of the victims of the recent disaster.

More than 100 University and community members attended the event, which was hosted by the Office of the President in partnership with the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, the Center for International Studies and the Division of Student Affairs.

The ceremony took place along the Hocking River beside the University's blooming Yoshino cherry trees in honor of the longstanding friendship between Ohio University and its three partner universities in Japan – Chubu University, Hokuriku University and Musashi University.

The cherry trees – which were originally gifted by Chubu University on the occasion of Ohio University's 175th anniversary – were illuminated at the close of the ceremony.

Christopher Thompson, chair of the Department of Linguistics, told the audience that he has conducted his lifelong research in the very area of Japan that was devastated, and he knew people who lost their lives in the tragedy. He added that despite the present state of the nation, the cherry blossoms on the trees are a sign of hope for the future.

"Japan has a cherry blossom front, and hopefully the cherry blossoms of Japan can help invigorate the people and help them emotionally and psychologically get ready for the long road ahead," Thompson said. "Here (at Ohio University), the cherry blossoms remind us of our close relationship with Japan."   

In addition to Thompson, remarks were delivered by Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis, City of Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl, OHIO faculty members who are experts in Japan and Asian studies, and an Ohio University student.

Opportunities to donate to Japan's relief efforts were provided by OHIO's Japanese Student Association and the International Student Union.

Fundraising for the victims will continue at the 10th annual Sakura Festival, Sunday, April 10, in the Baker University Center Ballroom. 

Sponsored by the Japanese Student Association, the event aims to educate the community about Japanese culture through traditional Japanese food, music, dancing and games.