G1 Global Experience

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Preparing for G1 Global that was held on November 3rd, BEYOND Tomorrow, along with KIBOW, co-hosted the BEYOND Tomorrow G1 Global Experience, through which highly motivated students from the Tohoku region could participate in G1 Global.


G1 Global is an international conference in which leaders from diverse fields of expertise gather in Tokyo to discuss global trends, with the theme being “Japan’s post-disaster rebirth.” One of the main objectives of the conference was to have students directly affected by the earthquake and tsunami speak about their first-hand experiences as well as visions for the future. A special session “Tohoku to the World” was held for this specific purpose. Through this session, the hope was to increase global awareness of the situation in the Tohoku region.

The taiko drumming team from Sendai Ikuei Gakuen High School performed under the theme of “recovery and restart,” and Vienna-based opera singer Syugo Ikoh, a native of Miyako City in Iwate prefecture, participated as the moderator. The four students below participated in this program, and they spoke about their experiences; their speeches garnered high accolades from the audience. They introduced themselves in English and presented their speech in Japanese with a simultaneous translator. (Below, in order from the back right)

Maria Kusaka(Sendai Ikuei Gakuen High School, 1st Year Student)

My name is Maria Kusaka. I am from Sendai.
I lost my father and the house to tsunami. I want to tell the world that we need to stand together for this crisis.

On March 11, the earthquake hit as I was walking over to my friend’s house. When we evacuated to a local school, I watched as the tsunami engulf the area in just a few minutes. My mother and younger brother reached safety in time, but I lost my father and my house in the tsunami. My father died while rushing home to try to save us.

I want to see my father again, my father who always did everything to protect my family. But now what I must do is to take care of my family, the one that my father sacrificed his life to save, and work even harder for his sake.

Through my experience with the tsunami, I learned the importance of relationships, and in the future I would like dedicate myself to serving others. In particular, learning that many elderly people passed away in the earthquake and tsunami, I am interested in nursing. In Japan there are many people who lost their homes and many young children who lost their parents. Seeing the extent of the tragedy, I believe that it is crucial that the world stand together and help.

Sayaka Sugawara(Sendai Ikuei Gakuen High School, 1st Year Student)

 My name is Sayaka Sugawara, and I am from Ishinomaki. I lost my family to tsunami. Now I live by myself in an apartment. I studied English in Canada this summer and want to meet many people in Davos.

March 11th was my middle school graduation day. It was the day that my classmates of 10 years were to begin embarking on a new journey, a day that was meant to remain as a happy memory.

The earthquake hit when I came home. It was a level of shaking that I had never felt before. The earthquake cut our power, so I was not able to receive information through the television. By the time I heard there was a tsunami coming and started to evacuate, it was already too late — I heard a ground-shaking boom, and in an instant my family and I were swallowed whole by the tsunami, along with my house. As I was being swept away with the rubble and black water, thoughts rushed through my head: “This is it. I’m going to die.” “I wish I had the chance to wear my high school uniform.”

After being swept away for a while with the rubble, I heard my mother calling my name from underneath the debris. When I cleared away the rubble, I found my mother, pierced by nails and tree limbs, and a broken leg. Her right leg was stuck, and even though I tried my best to clear the debris, it was too heavy and too big. I wanted to save my mother, but I knew that staying there I would be swept away again by the tsunami. Do I stay and save my mother? Or do I run to safety? I chose my own life. It was a decision that makes me cry to this day. When I left my mother I told her many times, Thank you, and I love you. It was the most difficult moment of my life to turn away from my mother who implored to me, “Don’t leave me.” There was so much more I wanted to tell her. But I had to leave; I swam to my lower school and spent the night there.

There were many, many more difficult experiences after that moment. There were days that were so difficult that I thought of dying. There were days that I wondered why life is so cruel, and I cannot even begin to count the number of times I cried thinking about my family. Through this tsunami, I lost so much of my life.

But there are things that I have gained through this experience. And I believe that the more effort I put into it, the more I can gain. People may look at me and  pity me, but that is not how I see myself. I have a loving grandmother and grandfather. I have friends who are very supportive. I have opportunities now because I have gone through this tragedy. I am confident that I am able to overcome any challenge life may throw at me. And I am able to understand other who have also suffered a great loss.

This is why in the future I hope to help other children who went through similar travesties. I would also like to participate in international volunteering organizations to give back to all the countries that helped Japan in this time of need.

I know that there will be many more challenges ahead in life. But I want to stay proactive, finding the ways in which I can help others so that I can give back as much as, if not more than, what I have lost.

Asaka Yanada(Iwate Prefectural Morioka First High School, 1st Year Student)

 My name is Asaka Yanada, and I am a student in Morioka First High School. I am from Kamaishi City. In my hometown, tsunami killed 900 people, and 200 people are still missing. Today I want to talk about my unique experience of having my own and other people’s lives saved.

When the earthquake occured I was a middle school student, and I was at school. My school had always emphasized disaster prevention drills, and accordingly, we followed our teachers to the designated evacuation site. But once we arrived there the teachers deemed the area to be unsafe, and we moved to higher ground. We ran, pulling along the underclassmen by their hands.

Once we reached higher ground, we watched as the tsunami swallowed up our school and our original evacuation site. If our teachers had not made the right decision to leave, we would have all died. In our town nearly 900 people died, and 200 people are still missing.

Many people who fled to the originally designated evacuation sites passed away. My classmates who were not in school that day went to these sites and died. They did not have enough resources to make a judgment call on what sites were safe.

This is why I want to share my experience with as many people as possible, in hopes that people will learn to respond to disasters better — perhaps this lesson can save one more life in the future. It is difficult to change behaviors, but it is not impossible.

The young victims of the tsunami are trying to make the best out of their experiences through the fields that they are strongest in. I have always been interested in the entertainment and broadcasting business and hope to be a voice actor. As such, I hope to use my strength in expressing myself to speak to the world about my experiences in the earthquake and tsunami.

Jumpei Shida(Iwate University Faculty of Engineering, 1st Year Student)

 Hello, I am Jumpei Shinda. My house was completely destroyed by the tsunami, and both of my parents lost their jobs because of the disaster. My family and I are still living in temporary housing, and I have lost many friends to the tsunami. Today, I want to share my opinion based on my personal experience with you.

There is something that I learned through my experience with the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that I would like to share with you:

Japan’s strong sense of unity. In the region where I live, there were only three houses that remained standing after the tsunami. Because one of those houses was severely flooded, on the day of the tsunami two houses provided shelter and food for 90 people in the area. Sitting on the floor because there was not enough room to lie down, we waited until the morning. Together, we worked to scavenge the food that was not swept away, and brought in water from the mountains to houses. There was not a single person who acted selfishly or broke the rules. While there were many challenges that a single person could not surmount, together, we were able to overcome each one of them. There are times when I wonder if this unification of our community was realized thanks to the devastation of the tsunami that we experienced together.

I hope to become an urban planner at my prefectural office, managing the recovery of Iwate prefecture. This tsunami had an impact beyond anyone’s imagination; even the areas designated as evacuation sites were affected by the tsunami. Furthermore, I heard that in the last few decades the regional geography changed with the progress of landfills, and the flood areas changed accordingly, but this was not taken into consideration when creating hazard maps. It is crucial to always consider these geographical changes when planning against disasters. I strongly believe that we can learn from our mistakes this time and become much better prepared for the next tsunami by revising the current hazard map. As someone who experienced the devastation first-hand, I believe that I can offer a particularly important perspective in creating a city that is resilient to disasters.

Syugo Ikoh(Stage Director)