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Actor Nishida awarded by home prefecture of Fukushima

31 July 2018

The Fukushima prefectural government announced on July 30 the presentation of the prefectural people’s honor award to Toshiyuki Nishida, a 70-year-old native of Koriyama city long active as an actor and singer. An award ceremony open to the public will be held in Koriyama on Sept. 17 to honor him for his showbiz activities lasting for half a century and for his contributions to his home prefecture. Nishida will be the fourth to receive such an award from the prefecture.

Nishida graduated from Koharada Junior High School in Koriyama and Nakano Senior High School in Tokyo attached to Meiji University, and then dropped out of the university. He joined Seinenza Theater Company in 1970. Representative works featuring him include the TV drama series “Ikenaka Genta 80kg” and the movie series “Tsuribaka Nisshi” (Fishing Maniac’s Diary). He also played the lead role in the period drama “Hachidai (8th) Shogun Yoshimune,” one of the productions in public broadcaster NHK’s historical drama series, while he played the role of Saigo Tanomo, chief retainer of the Aizu clan in Fukushima, in another NHK historical drama “Yae no Sakura” (Yae’s Cherry Blossom) set in the closing days of the Tokugawa shogunate.

As a singer, his tune “Moshimo Piano ga Hiketanara” (If I Could Play the Piano) became a huge hit, enabling him to perform at NHK’s annual year-end “Kouhaku Uta Gassen” song festival on a total of four occasions. Nishida is also active in a broad range of other fields, including as talk show emcee and CM appearances. He received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, in the latest conferment of decorations this spring.

Nishida has long been serving as “shakunage (alpine rose) ambassador,” supporting Fukushima’s reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant by appearing in the prefecture’s publicity video “MIRAI (future) 2061” and cooperating in allaying concerns about local agricultural products since the disaster, among other activities.

He performed at the “LIVE Fukushima, Wind and Rock SUPER Nomaoi” festival held in Koriyama in 2011, which was sponsored by Fukushima-Minpo Co., publisher of the namesake local daily. In 2012, he contributed a letter of recommendation to a collection of notes written by prefectural police officers and other people concerned who worked in response to the 2011 quake and nuclear accident. Fukushima-Minpo cooperated in editing the collection, titled “Living in Fukushima, Protecting Fukushima -- Notes by Police Officers & Their Families.”

“Nishida-san has appeared in a lot of films and dramas for many years, and inspired prefectural people in various ways, including helping sales of local farm produce and appearing in our video,” Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori said at a regular press conference as he spoke of the reasons for honoring him. “We would like him to help us implement measures and in other aspects in the future as well.”

Photo: Nishida set to receive the prefectural people’s honor award (courtesy of his management office)

(Translated by Kyodo News)

28 July 2018

Fukushima reconstruction ambassadors visit Taiwan By team of reporters covering Fukushima reconstruction ambassadors in Taiwan

A delegation of "Fukushima reconstruction ambassadors," commissioned by Fukushima-Minpo Co., visited the municipal office of Hualien, Taiwan, on July 27, where a major earthquake hit in February. The visitors conveyed to Hualien Mayor Wei Chia-hsien shared thoughts of moving toward reconstruction as victims of the same kind of disaster.

Jun Sakuma, managing director of Fukushima-Minpo's Regional Exchange Bureau, accompanying the delegation, read out a message from the company's President Masayuki Takahashi. Sakuma quoted Takahashi as saying in the message, "The power of young people and strong bonds will help us open the way for a bright future whatever hardship we may face." Reconstruction ambassador Yumeka Ichijo , a 17-year-old third grader at Asaka Kaisei High School in Koriyama city, said, "I was surprised to find post-quake recovery well under way in Hualien, and would like to report on the present situation back at school." She presented the mayor with commemorative goods, including an "okiagari koboshi" self-righting daruma doll.

Two other reconstruction ambassadors, Airi Takahashi, 13, and Yasuhiro Saito, 14, both junior high school second graders, also spoke about the resurgence of their hometowns, which were devastated by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. Takahashi is from Motomiya First Junior High School in Motomiya city and Saito from Koyo Junior High School in Soma city.

The delegation also visited Taipei and engaged in exchanges with students at Taipei Municipal Minquan Junior High School.

The visit to Taiwan by reconstruction ambassadors was implemented in cooperation with travel agency H.I.S. Co. The delegation visited the National Palace Museum, Martyrs' Shrine and other places on July 28 before returning home on July 29.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

22 July 2018

Tsunami-hit beach in Soma city opens for first time in 8 years

Haragamaobama beach in Soma city, Fukushima Prefecture, reopened to swimmers on July 21 after an eight-year hiatus since the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. Many people from within and outside the prefecture visited the leading bathing spot in the northern Hamadori region on the Pacific coast, bringing a bustle back to the beach.

As the day marked the start of the school summer vacation, the beach was full of family sea-goers. Benefitting from perfect weather for swimming, children and other young bathers were shouting for joy on the shoreline.

The “Soma Hama-matsuri” (Soma beach festival) was held by an executive committee comprising local parties, including the Soma Junior Chamber and the youth segment of the Soma Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It included a variety of beach events and live stage performances.

The beach had been closed since the Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Its reopening followed completion of reconstruction work on the shoreline and levees, among other facilities. The beach will open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily until Aug. 19. There are six beach shops and restaurants in operation.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

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