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HOME NEWS 【10 Year Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake】 Looking into the Past, Present, and Future: Vol 4. Message from Mr. Konno Ryota, Municipal Officer Worker, Namie Town

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2021/03/08

【10 Year Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake】 Looking into the Past, Present, and Future: Vol 4. Message from Mr. Konno Ryota, Municipal Officer Worker, Namie Town

Mr. Konno had just begun high school when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck his hometown, Namie in Fukushima. He was forced to live under evacuation and after nine years, finally was able to return home.

Duty and honor to my hometown

"I wanted to go back and explore what I could do for the town's needs."

Mr. Konno completed his master's degree in Tokyo in March 2020 and landed his first job at the municipal office in Namie, Fukushima. He also had a job offer lined up from a company in the Tokyo metropolitan area using his degree in sports science, and yet, he decided to go to Namie. It had been nine years since he lived in Namie.

The earthquakes struck when track and field practice was about to begin. From powerful shakes, he heard roofing tiles falling down from houses nearby. Residents were immediately ordered to evacuate. "I only had my phone and wallet because I thought I would be able to go home right away."

He stayed at his friend's house but the evacuation areas kept expanding. From one place after another, he constantly moved before settling down in Miyagi. "I could not really fit in right away," he recalled, but he eventually made friends through track and field.

Mr. Konno also participated in a leadership program for disaster recovery and traveled overseas for homestays during summer vacations. A particularly memorable encounter was with the late U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye. The late senator told him to "cherish the sense of duty and honor." Mr. Konno was inspired by the sense of duty the senator showed despite the racism he faced during World War II and how he lived with honor. This encounter gave Mr. Konno an opportunity to reflect on his own life and pushed him to courageously move forward.

"I want to revitalize the town through sports"

Mr. Konno's first assignment is at the tax unit. As he manages his tasks one by one, he hopes to revitalize the town through sports. On the weekends, he enjoys working out and also looks forward to monthly sporting events with his old friends who were forced to live apart. "To be honest, I don't quite know how to answer when people ask me why I came back. But I decided to return because I thought there were things that I could only find out by living here."

Things were not always easy for him. But he no longer detects the nuclear power plants. People have different opinions and I want to explore ways to respect each other.

Interview with Mr. Konno: "Great East Japan Earthquake #1: The reason I'm here"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7S-X2EtRbV0