Wednesday 6 March 2013 12.00pm – 2.00pm
GSMA Head Office
5 New Street Square
New Fetter Lane
London EC4A 3BF
Free – to register visit the website
On the eve of the two-year anniversary of the triple earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power crisis that struck North-Eastern Japan, Internews Europe is publishing a study on the role that communications played in disaster recovery and response. Report author Lois Appleby will present her main findings before a debate with a panel of humanitarian experts and emergency responders.
Minister, Head of Political Section
Embassy of Japan in the UK
Fmr. Deputy Cabinet Secretary for Public Affairs Prime Minister’s Office, Great East Japan Earthquake
Dr. Randolph Kent
Director of Humanitarian Futures Programme
King’s College London
Internews Europe Board Member
Report Author (on secondment from DFID, Conflict Humanitarian and Security Department)
Technical Director, Radio Ishinomaki
(Ishinomaki city, Miyagi)
Representative from Google Japan
Executive Director, Internews Europe
Sir Harry Parkes (1828 – 1885) was the British Minister to Japan over a period of eighteen years from 1865 to 1883. He was the longest serving British head of mission in Japan. His period of service coincided with the Meiji Restoration of 1868 and covered a period of unprecedented revolutionary change.
Parkes was born in Staffordshire but was orphaned while still a boy. In 1841 he was sent to join relatives in Macao. He studied Chinese and in 1842 found employment in the office of the Chief Superintendent of Trade in Hong Kong which had been occupied by the British in 1841 and became a British colony in the following year. When the British plenipotentiary to the Chinese Court, Sir Henry Pottinger, left Hong Kong in June 1842 for the Yangtse Kiang and Nanking, Parkes was a member of his party. He worked as interpreter under Sir Rutherford Alcock who became consul in Amoy in 1844. Parkes was in due course promoted be consul serving in Amoy, Canton and Shanghai. He travelled extensively in China. He was a member of Lord Elgin’s mission to Peking in 1860. In the course of this expedition he was arrested by Chinese authorities and imprisoned for three weeks during which he was laden with chains for eleven days and threatened with execution. Lord Elgin wrote of him: ‘Parkes is one of the most remarkable men I have ever met; for energy, courage and ability combined, I do not know where I could find his match; and this, joined to his facility of speaking Chinese,…makes him at present the man of the situation.’
…Parkes’ achievements cannot be diminished lightly. They probably could have been greater if he had managed to exercise more restraint and tact. He was left in Tokyo for too long and British interests would have been better served if he had been transferred in the first half of the 1870s. But Parkes had received his appointment at the early age of 38 and the only obvious alternative post for him was that of Minister in Peking and this was not available at the time or Parkes was not then considered the top candidate. To have forced Parkes to retire early would have been unjust to a distinguished public servant and it is at least debatable whether in the long run his extended term of service in Japan was as harmful to British interests as Satow clearly thought it was.
Parkes cannot be faulted for lack of industry and application. Nor did he ever neglect British commercial interests. He rates a high place in the list of great British diplomats of the nineteenth century – a period when heads of mission, if only because of the slowness of communications, had much more discretion to act independently than they have today.
Tuesday 5 March saw the opening of 2 Years After: The Great East Japan Earthquake Press Photo Exhibition at the Gallery@Oxo on Southbank.
The exhibition serves as a poignant reminder of the tragedy of 2011 and its enduring consequences. Images on display, from a variety of photographers, chronicle the immediate aftermath of the disaster, efforts toward recovery, and the work that remains to be done. The intention of the display is to raise awareness. The curators have attempted to highlight the legacy of the earthquake and tsunami and to prevent its continuing effects from being forgotten. Visitors to the exhibition will hopefully once again turn their thoughts to those continuing to suffer in Tohoku today.
The opening ceremony was attended by representatives of the Asahi Shimbun newspaper and Mitsubishi Corporation, who co-hosted the exhibition, alongside His Excellency Mr Keiichi Hayashi, Ambassador of Japan to the UK. Some short introductory speeches were made, drawing attention to the exhibition’s aims and encouraging all those attending to examine the displays in detail.
Full of poignant images of the aftermath of disaster and the personal stories of those most affected, the exhibition is a stark reminder of the power of nature and the scope of the devastation cause by a natural disaster.
Hopefully the coming weeks will see many visitors to the Gallery@Oxo. The exhibition is both an important memorial and a cry for renewed support.
For more details of the exhibition opening times, click here.