UCL News


UCL and Japan

18 March 2011

Links: Japan Earthquake Appeal: UCL Symposium

Japan redcross.org.uk/Donate-Now/Make-a-single-donation/Japan-Tsunami-Appeal">
Redcross Appeal

The UCL community has many connections with Japan and has been shocked and saddened by the recent disaster there. UCL's President and Provost, Professor Malcolm Grant, said:

"The disaster that has struck Japan has been truly shocking. Many at UCL are affected by it, directly as well as indirectly. We also have many Japanese staff and students at UCL, some of whom have suffered family losses. We have numerous academic collaborations and friendships. We have significant collaborations in particular with colleagues at Tohoku University, located in Sendai, with which we signed a Memorandum of Understanding for biomedicine and life sciences in January. There have been problems in establishing contact with colleagues there and the university has been closed until late April.

"As with Christchurch in New Zealand, we will do all we can to assist universities and colleagues in Japan. There is a very special historical relationship. It is now almost 150 years since the very first students left Japan to study abroad, in the final years of the isolationist Shogun era. They came to UCL - the university that would admit students no matter what their race or religion - and on graduation returned to lay the foundations of modern Japan. One became the first Prime Minister of post-Meiji Japan, and others made major contributions to public service, higher education and industry."

Professor Derek Tocher, Pro-Provost for East & South East Asia, commented: "Nobody who witnessed the terrible events of 11 March can have failed to have been moved by the images which appeared on our television screens. The consequences of an earthquake of magnitude 9.0 on the Richter scale were devastating enough on a society that had long prepared for such an event but the tsunami which followed multiplied the effect of the tragedy many times over. The images of the tsunami wave literally consuming a modern society as it rolled across the countryside is one that will remain seared on our collective memory for a very long time. These events are clearly a potent reminder of just how fragile and indeed vulnerable our modern 21st century civilisation is when challenged by the power of mother nature.

"Our condolences and best wishes go to those directly affected by this tragedy, the emergency workers dealing with the nuclear crisis, and the doctors, nurses and relief workers who are tirelessly working to bring a semblance of normality back to those who have lost family, friends, homes and livelihoods."

Japanese staff at UCL have organised a symposium to support the Japan Earthquake Appeal to be held next week at UCL on 22 March. More details can be found at the link above.

A number of experts from UCL have been commenting on events. Highlights of this coverage include:

  • Appearances by Professor Peter Sammonds (UCL Earth Sciences) on Sky News and BBC Newsnight.
  • Comment pieces in The Times and The Guardian by Professor Bill McGuire (UCL Earth Sciences).
  • An article authored by Professor Julian Hunt (UCL Earth Sciences) and Dr Simon Day (Aon Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre) in The Wall Street Journal.
  • Comment from Dr Tiziana Rosetto (UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering) on BBC News Online and on ITV Tonight.
  • A letter authored by Dr Mathias Disney (UCL Geography) in The Guardian.

Image: Satellite image of Japan, taken by NASA.