Ken Watanabe helping out in disaster relief

When he is not busy filming and has time on his hands, acclaimed “Last Samurai” actor Ken Watanabe has another starring role: being behind the counter and serving meals to customers at his K-port cafe.
The actor sat down for an interview with The Asahi Shimbun to explain how he is trying to raise spirits in quake-hit areas but also talk about challenges facing Fukushima Prefecture, site of a nuclear disaster triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, in light of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games.
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After his restaurant was swamped by the tsunami, he invited me to his home. His house is equipped with as nice an “irori” sunken hearth as that of Fukuyoshi, and he roasted fish over charcoal for me and was moved by the tasty fish.
Six weeks after the disaster, he started touring evacuation shelters with relief goods in the hoping he could help people feel better.
He hopes people can still recall all those black plastic bags full of contaminated soil piled up along arterial highways. Younger generations and families with children have yet to return to Fukushima. The reality is that many people who left their hometowns will never be able to return.
The accident was a reality of the near past and was a terrible tragedy. We should never forget it.
The Games were initially organized to show the world how Japan is able to recover from natural disasters, but I feel that only the economic effects are currently taken into account. In other words, the event only promotes Tokyo, and Tohoku is being left behind.
There are many things people outside of the quake-affected areas can do. They can contribute to those regions through the “furusato nozei” hometown tax contribution system, buy local specialties from disaster-stricken areas, and of course, make donations.
It is said that a huge earthquake will hit Japan again in the near future. We must consider the lessons learned from the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.
Reference: Role that Ken Watanabe likes best: Helping out in disaster area


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