Lecture: Japan's Recovery Lies in Iitate's Spirit of 'Madei' Lecture, Q&A Session

Presented by JICC, Embassy of Japan

A Lecture with Norio Kanno, Mayor of Iitate Village, Fukushima

As Japan continues to recover from the March 11th earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear disasters, one village at the heart of the catastrophe has demonstrated an inspiring resilience. Located 24 miles from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, Iitate was once a thriving and idyllic farming community. But since the tragic events of March 11th its families have been displaced, forcing them to abandon their homes, livelihoods, and a way of life they had enjoyed for generations.

No one knows the profound loss this represents better than Iitate's own mayor, Norio Kanno. Mayor Kanno has taken on a leadership role in trying to ensure the village's survival, playing an instrumental part in advocating for its inhabitants and soliciting substantial government funding for their relief. He credits the positive energy he and other villagers have been able to summon to their spirit of "madei."

Originally meaning "whole-heartedness" and "acting with respect and care," the term has more recently been interpreted in Iitate's own dialect as denoting "eco-consciousness" and "acting in harmony with nature." Mayor Kanno argues that it is only by adopting Iitate's unique philosophy of madei that Japan can hope to work towards recovery, and that tragedy can become an opportunity to help the nation embrace this vital credo.

Norio Kanno was born in 1946 in Iitate Village. Since being elected Mayor in 1996 he has served four consecutive terms.

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