At TIS, our school year starts in September; however in Japan, schools usually start their school year in April. Since the earthquake happened in March (at the end of the Japanese school year) and since many schools were damaged during the earthquake and tsunami and others are being used as evacuation centers, many students in Japan have had a first-hand encounter with the disaster.

The Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Naoto Kan, and the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Mr. Yoshiaki Takaki, wrote a letter to elementary students in Japan to help them face the new school year with the right attitude.

Nature poses us with severe hardships as we have witnessed in this earthquake and tsunami, while at the same time she has the power to embrace us gently just like the cherry blossom front.

We ask all of you to pass the baton of kindness to your peers in the areas stricken by the disaster. This can be done through simple acts of kindness such as giving up your seat to the elderly on a train, or helping out the disabled in need. We believe such acts of kindness will gradually reach those in the stricken areas as the cherry blossom front proceeds.

Read the rest of Prime Minister Kan’s speech

At TIS, we have collected food to give to people in evacuation shelters and we have written letters to the people who have been affected by the triple disaster to help cheer them up. Also, as educators, we will do our best to help TIS students embrace the attitude outlined by the Prime Minister:

We hope that you will become a person who is always ready to help others by becoming physically strong, developing your decision-making abilities and building up a gentle heart.

We at TIS wish all students at Japanese elementary schools a safe and healthy new school year.