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May 27, 2017

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Japan students thank Taiwan for quake aid

TAIPEI -- A group of mostly Japanese students braved drizzling rain Sunday to stage an event in New Taipei to thank Taiwan for its relief assistance in the wake of a magnitude 9 earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

The event was held for the third consecutive year by a group called Arigatou ("thank you") Taiwan, which consists of 10 Japanese and two Taiwanese university and graduate school students who are studying or have studied in Taiwan.

"Thank you Taiwan sincerely," said 24-year-old Kengo Kosaka, a business student who heads the group.

Taiwan provided not only money, but emotional support for the disaster survivors, an act that touched all Japanese people, Kosaka, who has studied in Taiwan for over a year, told CNA.

He added that his group will send Taiwanese encouragement and blessings to the disaster areas.

The event in Tamsui included music and dance performances.

Participants were offered opportunities to fold origami paper cranes, which symbolize blessings and hope, for the survivors. The paper cranes will later be sent to residents in the affected areas.

Photos of reconstruction work and letters of gratitude from the survivors were also exhibited at the event, which began in the morning and ran into the evening.

"I saw a ray of light after receiving the donation from Taiwan. My eyes well up with tears, knowing that a foreign country is willing to help the victims in northeastern Japan," one letter said.

"From our Taiwanese friends, we have found the power to live on again," another read.

Kenichi Okada, secretary-general of the Interchange Association's Taipei Office, which represents Japan's interests in Taiwan, said he hopes that events like this will bring Japan and Taiwan closer.

"I want to cheer for Japan," said Liu Xin-yu, a 20-year-old Taiwanese student, who volunteered to teach people how to fold paper cranes.

A group of mothers also wrote down "Go Japan! Taiwan will always stand by you" in Chinese on paper to encourage the survivors in Japan.

The earthquake and subsequent tsunami killed nearly 20,000 people, mainly in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures in northeastern Japan.

In the wake of the disaster, Taiwan donated about 20 billion Japanese yen (US$193 million) in aid, more than any other single country.

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