Hideki Makihara Forum: Speech by Shinpei Fujita


The Hideki Makihara Forum was held at RAFRE SAITAMA, where Shinpei Fujita, a participant of the Tohoku Future Leaders Summit, gave a speech.

Having lost his house in Kesennuma, Fujita now lives on his own in Kanagawa prefecture in an evacuation shelter. His speech moved the audience, and he received extremely positive feedback throughout the forum.

On his speech, Fujita reflected, “I was pretty nervous, but I was very grateful for this opportunity to speak. I hope that other high school students also have a chance like this.”

Shinpei Fujita, Senior, Kanagawa Prefecture Kishine High School

My name is Shinpei Fujita, and I am a senior at Kanagawa Prefecture Kishine High School. I moved to Kanagawa Prefecture after losing my home in Miyagi Prefecture Kesennuma city to the tsunami and earthquake.。

I would like to thank Mr Makihara, without whom I would not have this opportunity to speak in front of such a distinguished group of socially active politicians and leaders. He has kindly supported students like myself who have been deeply affected by the tsunami and given us.

My hometown of Kesennuma City received devastating damages during the tsunami and earthquake of March 11. My swimming club was also destroyed, and I lost a place to go swimming. I have been dedicating myself to swimming for 13 years. Just when I thought all was lost, the swimming club at KANAGAWA UNIVERCITY contacted me via the internet, and I decided to leave my family in Kesennuma City and live in Kanagawa prefecture on my own.

I was able to start swimming again, and six months after the tsunami I placed 7th at Overall athletic swimmer in Kanagawa Prefecture, allowing me to enter the Kanto Tournament. In September I competed at the National Sports Festival, held in Yamaguchi prefecture, as a representative for Miyagi prefecture.

My dream is to go to college and become Japan’s top swimmer. I train every day believing that the best way to give back to my hometown is to forge forward and achieve my dream. By showing that I have overcome the obstacles of the terrible disaster and taking full advantage of the gift of life that I have received, I want to inject energy back into the Tohoku region.

It has been eight months since the earthquake and tsunami. Especially since I have left the Tohoku region, I can sense that the disaster is becoming less and less top of mind for the public, and I imagine that that may sadden some of the victims. Knowing this, I attended the Tohoku Future Leaders Summit in October, which was held by BEYOND Tomorrow, a project which Mr Makihara was also involved in founding. The goal of the summit was to gather 70 students from different affected regions and create a proposal addressing the future of the Tohoku region. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to learn about disaster relief and urban planning, as well as to work with peers who have similar experiences of the earthquake and tsunami. In fact, I truly believe it was a miracle that I was able to build these friendships with other similarly affected high school students through BEYOND Tomorrow. We made a strong promise to each other that we will all put our hearts and souls into overcoming this challenge together.

I am extremely grateful to Mr Makihara and all of the other members of the project who gave me this opportunity and the hope to keep pursuing my dreams. I am here today, months after the earthquake and tsunami, thanks to the help and support of a countless number of people. I strongly believe that this exemplifies the importance of “human connection,” something that my parents and siblings have always taught me to value. Keeping these connections dear to my heart, I plan on actively contributing to the recovery of the Tohoku region, and I thank you in advance for your support.

Mr Makihara, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for your attention.