Twenty young Japanese junior high-school students from the Togura, Shizugawa and Utatsu junior high schools in Minami-Sanriku, one of the areas worst affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, will visit Victoria for an eight-day visit commencing today.
The visit is part of the Reconstruction Initiative of the Australia-Japan Foundation (AJF) with assistance from the Tokyo Club in Japan, Qantas Airways, the Government of Victoria, the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Tourism Victoria, the Australian Embassy Tokyo, Wine Australia and Club Australia. The AJF's Reconstruction Initiative seeks to fund projects which provide assistance to Japanese communities affected by the disaster.
The AJF Chair, Mr Murray McLean AO, extended a warm welcome to these students who have gone through such difficult experiences over the past two years.
"I am delighted these young Japanese students are visiting Victoria and will experience an interesting and varied program of educational, cultural and recretional activities."
Mr McLean, the Australian Ambassador to Japan at the time of the tragedy, said he believed the visit would continue to strengthen the people-to-people links between Australia and Japan - two nations that are already close long-term friends and partners.
The young students participating in the visit wrote essays about what they would like to do in Australia if they had the chance to visit. Some of their essays may be viewed at http://www.australia.or.jp/en/news/20130322_essays.php.
The students will experience different aspects of Australia's school and cultural life through classes at Fairhills High School in Knoxfield, staying with local families, participating in farm stays over Easter in Ballarat and Kyneton, seeing the sights of Melbourne's CBD and enjoying an evening at one of Melbourne's favourite destinations – Phillip Island – to see the penguin parade.