Nine UCLA students studying in the Tokyo area with UC’s Education Abroad Program have been located and are safe, while an estimated 20 graduate students affiliated with the UCLA Paul I. and Hisako Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies were far from the worst damage.
By Cynthia Lee for the UCLA Newsroom
Nine UCLA students studying in the Tokyo area with UC’s Education Abroad Program have been located and are safe, campus officials confirmed. The program was on spring break when the earthquake and tsunami waves struck in northeastern Japan on March 11.
In addition, an estimated 20 graduate students affiliated with the UCLA Paul I. and Hisako Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies are in Japan doing field research and language studies. They were concentrated in cities far from the worst damage, in Tokyo, Yokohoma, Osaka and Kyoto, said Mariko Bird, assistant director at the Terasaki Center.
At least six other UCLA-affiliated travelers were known to be in Japan at the time of the earthquake. None have requested assistance.
In other developments related to the Japan disaster:
Among faculty and staff who have the most ties to the Sendai area is internationally renowned architect Hitoshi Abe, professor and chair of architecture and urban design in the School of the Arts and Architecture. He is also director of the Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies.
Born and raised in Sendai, and with many family members and friends in the area, Abe was able to contact his parents and brother who live there. He confirmed they are safe. Abe, who is an authority on Japanese architecture, urban design and building codes, also has an active international architectural practice in Sendai as well as a visiting professorship at Tohoku University in Sendai. Staffers at his business office sent him a photo of his earthquake-damaged office.
"Inside my office, things are just trashed," said Abe, who traveled there every two months. "It looks as if you put everything in a box and just shook it. But there was no water damage from the tsunami."
He added: "People are isolated there and just waiting for help to reach them. I’m so proud of the way the people there are behaving. They are helping each other survive. There are no fights as they wait hours and hours for food and water. It’s incredible the way they are dealing with the situation. People are being so civilized. That’s something I am very proud of."
Abe, who has received many offers of help from colleagues and other members of the UCLA family, is in the process of identifying rescue and aid organizations that can most directly help the community.
"We were as well prepared for this earthquake as any country in the world," said Abe. "When I was in high school, a huge earthquake happened, and so the architectural building codes were changed and updated."
But the size of this earthquake, he said, "went beyond our imagination." The sawtoothed formation of the area’s coastline, he said, also added to the force and the height of the tsunami waves.
Published: Monday, March 14, 2011
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