Gold Coast welcomes students from Japanese disaster zone

Media release from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

27 March 2012

Queensland's Gold Coast will this week play host to 24 young Japanese students from three junior high schools in Minami-Sanriku, one of the areas worst affected by the 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The visit is supported by the Australia-Japan Foundation as part of its Reconstruction Initiative to fund projects which provide assistance to Japanese communities affected by the disaster.

The Australia-Japan Foundation Chair, Mr Murray McLean OAM, extended a warm welcome to the students who had been through so much.

"I am delighted that these young Japanese students are able to visit Australia and enjoy a range of unique and valuable experiences at the Gold Coast," he said.

Mr McLean, the Australian Ambassador to Japan at the time of the tragedy, said he believed the visit would foster stronger people-to-people links between two nations that were already close friends and partners.

During her visit to Japan in April 2011, Prime Minister Julia Gillard was the first foreign Head of Government to visit Minami-Sanriku following the disaster.

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 can be viewed at http://ajf.australia.or.jp/en/news/20120306_essays.php

The Japanese students will experience different aspects of Australia's school and cultural life through home stays and classroom and cultural activities.

They will attend classes at a state high school including English, an introduction to Australian Rules Football during sports class, cooking and an art workshop on Indigenous painting techniques. They will also visit Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Dream World and Springbrook National Park.