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One Year After: Commemorating 3/11

One year has now passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011. With this in mind, we at Chuo would like to offer our heartfelt sympathy to everyone affected by the disaster and convey our great respect for those people who continue to persevere in their efforts to embark on new chapters in life.

There were no fatalities among the students and staff members of Chuo University, and there was only minor damaged to the university's facilities. However, many people and institutions were greatly affected by 3/11. At Chuo we have students from across Japan and abroad, as well as from the affected areas, and we have continued to find ways to offer support as a university throughout this past year.

Being just one of Japan's private universities there are limits on what we can do. Nevertheless, from our experiences over the past year we have come to the conclusion that there are things we can do because we are Chuo University. This is our pledge as we meet this significant milestone of March 12, 2012.

First of all, Chuo University continues its commitment to learning as an institution of higher education. We are keenly aware that it is a most important responsibility to secure learning opportunities for those students from the affected areas. Therefore, in this year's entrance exam we waived admission fees for those students, as well as opening examination locations in Sendai and Niigata prefectures. We will continue to support these students financially, as well as with counseling and other needs, in 2012.

Second, Chuo University is committed to its continuing contribution to society. We have heard that there is a lack of volunteers in the hard-hit areas, and for this reason Chuo University is continuing to organize student volunteer teams during breaks in the academic year and is striving to maintain opportunities for volunteer activities through follow-up debriefing sessions. I believe it is an important part of the University's social contribution to continue to gather our young people's power, as well as to develop and adjust volunteer activities to suit changing situations. Chuo University has supported a wide variety of activities, including: damage surveys done right after the quake by experts (professors) and students specializing in urban environments and civil engineering; preliminary legal-assistance surveys by Law School students last summer; clearing of rubble by volunteers; support for temporary housing communities; study support for children; and, ongoing activities of the Chuo Business School Disaster Site Volunteer Team, which is a united effort of students, alumni, and staff members of the Chuo Business School. In short, Chuo University is focused on recognizing the changing needs of society and offering the expertise of our university. Furthermore, we remain committed to this approach in the months and years to come.

Third, Chuo University is working to strengthen cooperation with relevant parties. For example, the teams of student volunteers could not have been successful in their activities without others' support and guidance. There has been strong leadership from numerous NPOs that have accurately understood the needs of those in the affected areas and coordinated support from many university students, including our students. We are honored that Chuo University is able to sponsor the "Kesennuma-oshima Restoration Camellia Festival," from March 13 to May 6, as a result of requests during volunteer activities last summer. We are certain that it is an invaluable mission of Chuo University, as a university with experts and students in various fields, to strengthen cooperation through connecting with various individuals and organizations.

Students volunteer at Kesennuma-shi, Shishiori district

Finally, Chuo University continues to research disaster countermeasures to be shared with society. However, rather than simply sharing research outcomes with the wider academic community, Chuo is committed to providing information that is easily understandable to all members of society. The "Chuo Online" website is an example of this commitment.

One year has passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake, and it will take years to recover from the heartbreak; not only for the people who are unable to return to their homes and who are staying in temporary housing even now, but also for those of us who were not affected directly. Chuo University will not forget March 11, 2011, and promises to continue acting for society in various fields with our wholehearted efforts.

Professor Tadahiko Fukuhara
Chancellor and President
Chuo University