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E1467e – Exhibition “The Power of Books”: Not to Forget the Mega-Disaster

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Current Awareness-E No.243

29 August, 2013

Exhibition “The Power of Books”: Not to Forget the Mega-Disaster

With the third anniversary of March 11, Oga Masahiro, chairman of the standing committee of Publishing Headquarter for the Great Disaster and the President of Shogakukan, Inc., once again insists, “There was an actual feeling that assistance from several people becomes a big power to support collapsing minds, but such atmosphere is fading away. We must not forget that many people continue to live in the middle of tragedy triggered by the disaster, and making every effort to return to their everyday lives. Engaged in publication, I believe we must make various contributions for this ‘Do-Not-Forget’ ”.

Relief money from the publishing industry has reached over 400 million yen including those commissioned to the Japanese Red Cross Society as well as “Publishing Reconstruction Fund for the Great Disaster,” a direct support for the three affected prefectures (Iwate, Miyage, and Fukushima Prefectures). Donated books during this past two years have reached 230,000 volumes, which only covers those that Japan Publishers Club (General Incorporated Foundation) were engaged in. Efforts to donation of prepaid book-cards to elementary school students and disaster orphans in the three affected prefectures have entered its third year. Small space for reading was created in the former Akasaka Prince Hotel and “Rainbow Library Shinonome” was established in housings for public officials in Koto-Ward, Tokyo Prefecture, both used for evacuees from Fukushima. A temporary children’s library “Rainbow Library” was established in Rikuzentakata City in collaboration with Mitsui & Co., Ltd.. Small reading space was also created in PEP kids Koriyama, an indoor playground for children facing the threat of radiation in Fukushima Prefecture, in cooperation with Ito Yokado and York Benimaru (both supermarkets), as well as organizations in the publishing industry. “School Library Genki Project” of the School Library Association have also provided continuous support. Publication Headquarter for the Great Disaster and the “Publishing Reconstruction Fund for the Great Disaster” established three months after the disaster are supporting these range of activities.

“The Great East Japan Earthquake: Records of All Publications after 3.11 – The Power of Books Exhibition,” organized by the Publishing Headquarter for the Great Disaster in cooperation with Kihara Corporation, presents a “Do-Not-Forget” message that publishers hope to transmit to all across Japan in response to the call from Oga Chairman mentioned above. According to the Research Institute for Publications of the All Japan Magazine and Book Publisher’s and Editor’s Association, 2,352 books related to the disaster have been published between April 2011 and June 2013. Among them, 1,440 books were collected to “The Power of Books” exhibition. The number of cooperating publishers reached 370. Donated books are categorized and exhibited in ten themes including “picture books,” “photo books,” “earthquake and tsunami,” “nuclear power.” It was unfortunate that fewer books were exhibited in the “literature and novels” category.

Iwata Genji Executive Director of Association for Promoting Reading (public interest incorporated association) has stated his impression of reading searing works at “The Power of Books” exhibition in volume 549 of the journal “Dokusho Suishin Undou (読書推進運動)” He states, “In “Happy Birthday 3.11” (Asukashinsha Publishing), I read the drama of Haruki Kawaguchi, a baby born in a parking lot amid heavy snow 27 minutes after the disaster. In “Inochi no Baton (命のバトン)”(Kosei Shuppan) of Kaoru Horigome, I read the record of how cows and high school students learning agriculture survived the tsunami. In “Dakedo Kujikenai (だけど,くじけない)” (NHK Publishing) by a photographer Hiromi Nagakura, I saw children’s best smiles. Books published within this past two years related to the Great East Japan Disaster are filled with treasures.”

We have also received the following e-mail message from Inomata Megumi, Itochu Corporation Corporate Communications Division, CSR Promotion & Global Environment Department: “While engaging in activities to support children’s reading particularly through Itochu Foundation, we have been thinking whether what we should tell children have changed before and after the disaster, and how we could respond to such change. I was very glad to have the opportunity to see so many books and to read them closely.”

“The Power of Books” exhibition will circulate across Japan for a year starting Kumamoto Shintoshin Plaza Library from September 2013 through September 2014. While asking for donations for the Great Earthquake Reconstruction Fund, we hope that many visitors will feel “The Power of Books.” We hope to set up a system to enable visitors to order exhibited books at site. We are also in the process of donating exhibited books to libraries in affected three prefectures after the tour.

Written by Takeda Kazuyoshi
Executive Director, Japan Publishers Club

Translated by Okada Aya