18 July 2015
London, Britain – Sake produced by Homare Sake Brewery Co. in Kitakata city, Fukushima Prefecture, was awarded first place in the Japanese rice wine category at the International Wine Challenge, the world’s largest wine-tasting contest, held in London on the evening of July 16 (early July 17 Japan time). Winning the “Champion Sake” title was the “Aizu Homare Banshu Yamada Junmai Daiginjo” brew made from finely polished quality rice.
It was the first time for a Fukushima sake brewery to win the top award. This reflects the high quality of sake produced in Fukushima, which boasts of the highest number of Gold Award-winning brews at the Annual Japan Sake Awards for three consecutive years in 2015 among the nation’s 47 prefectures.
Homare Sake Brewery President Hiroyuki Karahashi attended an award presentation ceremony held in London the same day. “This achievement is accomplished by the efforts of local breweries in Fukushima which have come together as one and worked hard together to overcome the damage to our reputation (caused by the nuclear disaster),” Karahashi said.
“I hope this will bring hope and pride (to Fukushima) and enable us to dream toward the future,” he said. “It would be great if (the award) will help dispel concerns about Fukushima products.”
(Translated by Kyodo News)
17 July 2015
Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori, along with Fukushima-Minpo Co.'s "reconstruction envoys" and other guests, planted weeping cherry trees at the Fukushima Garden in London's Holland Park on July 16 during a ceremony held there to celebrate the garden's third anniversary. The tree-planting event represented the prefecture's determination to recover from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters.
It was the first time in three years for the local newspaper's Fukushima Reconstruction Ambassadors to be dispatched to London, the last visit being at an opening ceremony for the Fukushima Garden. The park near central London has become an oasis spot for local residents, some of whom also took part in the ceremony. Robert Freeman, mayor of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea that manages the park, and local politician Victoria Borwick (former deputy mayor of London), who has been playing a major role in the project since the garden's opening, gave welcoming speeches, while Japanese Ambassador to Britain Keiichi Hayashi spoke about the significance of the garden.
Following Gov. Uchibori's address, two reconstruction ambassadors – 15-year-old Taiga Ide, a first-year student at Futaba Mirai Gakuen High School from Tomioka town, and 16-year-old Ikumi Yamada, a second-year student at Soma High School from Soma city – delivered speeches in English. They expressed appreciation for the support Fukushima received in the aftermath of the disasters, as well as their determination to move forward with hometown reconstruction. Afterwards, they attended the cherry tree-planting ceremony in commemoration of the anniversary together with local students who volunteer at the park.
(Translated by Kyodo News)
15 July 2015
Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori told diplomats in Geneva from various countries and representatives of international organizations about the current progress in the northeastern Japanese prefecture's reconstruction from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters during a gathering in the Swiss city on the evening of July 13 (July 14 morning Japan time). The governor, who was on a visit to Europe, also sought the participants' cooperation in dispelling concerns about radioactive contamination from the nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi power plant as well as remembering the lessons learnt from the devastation. The seminar-cum-gathering was hosted by the Fukushima prefectural government at Japan's permanent mission to international organizations in Geneva.
About 40 people attended the seminar, including the ambassadors of Ireland and Thailand, and other representatives of international organizations and government agencies such as those from the Philippines, India and Switzerland.
Gov. Uchibori spoke about the progress experienced so far in the prefecture since the triple disasters. "Four years and four months have passed (since the March 2011 disasters) and yet there are still about 110,000 people who remain evacuated from their homes and are forced to find shelter elsewhere across the nation's 47 prefectures," Uchibori said with regard to residents' living conditions. "We are faced with the harsh reality that livelihoods prior to the disasters cannot be restored."
Furthermore, the governor noted the fact that consumers continue to be distrustful of Fukushima's agricultural and fisheries products, despite thorough tests for radioactive substances.
At the same time, he also explained that children in the prefecture are now enjoying their physical education classes and athletic meets in school playgrounds – outdoor activities just as they did before the nuclear disaster. The governor also stressed that the prefecture's reconstruction is progressing steadily, with the agriculture, fisheries and tourism industries on the track to recovery.
(Translated by Kyodo News)