25 September 2019: At 1415 today, Fiji and Uruguay play each other in Kamaishi city, one of the 12 cities in Japan hosting the 2019 Rugby World Cup. It is the first match in the city. The Rugby stadium is new and city welcoming.
Eight years ago Kamaishi city was hit by a devastating tsunami, following the Great East Japan Earthquake on 11th March 2011. Yu Saeki, the Kamaishi Seawaves Rugby Team Coach recalls in his own words, “it was absolutely heartbreaking, unreal and unbelievable”.
Like Japan, Fiji also has its share of natural hazards, as the Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama says, “as a nation located on an active tectonic boundary, Fiji is seriously threatened by seismic activity.”
For the Government of Japan, strengthening tsunami and disaster awareness is critical for preparedness. Through support to the United Nations Development Programme, over 60,000 students and teachers from over 100 schools across 18 countries in the Asia Pacific region have learnt how to respond to a tsunami warning.
The importance of awareness is conveyed by Kamaishi city mayor Mr. Takenori Noda, “For any disasters, be prepared, evaluate, do not return and keep stories alive”.
When the whistle sounds for the start of the Fiji-Uruguay match, Frank Lomani will be one of the men in the pitch under the Fijian colors. Acknowledging the importance of playing in Kamaishi, he says: “[Playing in Kamaishi] is very special for us because we have come here and witness what real disaster survival means, how they rebuild and recover from the disaster”.
The Rugby union has defined integrity, passion, solidarity, discipline and respect as core values of the sport. Today, Kamaishi brings in an added value: Resilience.