Hiromi Tanaka of the art hub Musaffah, showing one of the work made by Japanese volunteers in Abu Dhabi as part of commemorating the anniversary of Japanese Earthquake. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: “When they sang a popular Japanese song for us, we all cried; but at the end we did realise they shared their resilience, hope and dreams,” a Japanese resident of Abu Dhabi said yesterday.

Hiromi Tanaka, a homemaker, was referring to a video conference session which involved a group of Japanese residents in Abu Dhabi and survivors of the calamitous Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

The Japanese song titled Hana wasaku (Flower will bloom) highlights a message of hope rather than dwelling on the disaster, she said. It says: “We won’t let it be forgotten, and together we will build a new future.”

Tanaka and her friends gathered at Art Hub, an art gallery in Mussaffah to commemorate the second anniversary of the earthquake. “We wanted to give a message to the affected people that the UAE cares for them,” she said.

About 19,000 people were killed two years ago when a 9.0-magnitude earthquake triggered a major tsunami causing devastation along the Pacific coastline in Japan. Media reports continue to highlight the emotional stress of those affected by the disaster amid delays in rebuilding. Some 300,000 people still living in temporary shelters across the country.

Tomomi Sasagawa, a Japanese artist, said she had heard the Japanese song in the media. “But when I heard it from them [earthquake survivors], it was a different experience.”

She said she had visited the affected areas in Northern Japan last summer to see a friend’s family. Despite the disaster, people were going about their lives with great dignity, Sasagawa said.

Many of the affected people were living with limited facilities but they were coping with the situation remarkably, she said. “It was fascinating to see that they were cheerful,” Sasagawa said.

Sasagawa and her friends also conducted a Japanese Art Exhibition and Charity Sale at the Art Hub during the weekend. Part of the proceeds will be sent to the earthquake survivors through the embassy of Japan in Abu Dhabi, they said.

Ahmad Al Yahei, who owns the Art Hub, said, his strong links with Japan prompted him to host the event. He has lived in Japan for three years as part of his job.

He said he was very impressed by the way the earthquake survivors had faced the disaster. “What happened was not in their control. But now they show us they can control its after-effects,” Al Yahei said. Some of the problems may last for many years but the spirit of the survivors showed the world how to face problems bravely, he said. “It is very good example to the world about facing the troubles in life,” he said.