During a visit from the Consul-General of Japan, Dr Masahiro Kohara, on Tuesday, June 7th, UNE joined other Australian organisations and governments in extending a helping hand to people affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Following meetings with the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jim Barber, and Chancellor, Dr Richard Torbay MP, the Consul-General outlined in a public address at UNE the scale of the damage wrought, including the 16,000 lives lost and the 8,000 still missing, and the response of the Japanese government and people in rebuilding.
Turning to Japan’s development and the state of the Australia-Japan relationship, the Consul-General identified Japan as being at a crossroads, with quality of life taking increasing precedence. He commented on the great capacity for Australia and Japan to assist each other, with shared values in democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law, and a significant stake in stability in the region.
Welcoming the Consul-General to campus, Chancellor Richard Torbay said ‘We are a University with strong international links, and we value academics and students from overseas as part of our University community. Our relationship at a national level with Japan is one of our most significant.’
The Vice-Chancellor then presented the Consul-General with an offer to assist Japanese students affected by the tsunami and earthquake, and particularly those in the hard-hit Sendai region.
‘Our sympathies and best wishes are extended to the people of Japan at this time of hardship following the devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami of March, 2011,’ Professor Barber said. ‘Since that time, the Japanese people have shown great resilience and courage in the face of adversity’.
‘The University of New England would like to play its part by offering places on campus at the University in Armidale for five students from universities in affected areas, including in particular the region of Sendai. We would be pleased to accommodate these students in its colleges and to meet costs associated with their tuition in English language’.
The Consul-General concluded his visit by meeting with students and Japan specialists from UNE’s active academic community, including those specialising in language studies, Japanese music and culture, and strategic studies. The University expects to capitalise on the strong links built by further exploring institutional and people-to-people linkages between UNE and organisations in Japan.