ANZ announced the opening of the Minami Sanriku Australia Friendship Learning Centre in Northern Japan. The centre will officially open on 1 February to provide education and learning facilities to the community of Minami Sanriku. It is the first permanent building in Minami Sanriku since the 2011 tsunami.
The JPY53 million (AUD562k) project was fully supported by ANZ. Immediately after the tsunami in 2011, ANZ had provided AUD1 million towards disaster relief and pledged longterm support in Japan’s rebuilding process. In this spirit, local design and construction companies were selected after a bidding process to help the recovery of the local economy.
Speaking at the opening ceremony on 19 January, ANZ Japan CEO Peter Davis said: “Helping communities thrive by creating education and employment opportunities to improve economic and social inclusion in the countries where we operate is a key priority of ANZ’s Corporate Responsibility framework. The learning centre provided ANZ the opportunity to help the community rebuild after a traumatic disaster and look to the future.”
Jin Sato, Mayor of Minami Sanriku, and Bruce Miller, Australian Ambassador to Japan, also attended the ceremony.
Mr Sato said: “This is a significant and encouraging milestone in our town’s rebuilding journey. As the first permanent civic building since the tsunami and one which gives people a place to learn and build their future, the learning centre is not just a symbol of new beginnings but of the town’s connection to Australia.”
Ambassador Miller said: “Australia and Minami Sanriku have built a strong relationship since the tsunami struck on 11 March 2011. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, an Australian Urban Search and Rescue Team was despatched to the town to search for survivors. Prime Minister Julia Gillard visited Minami Sanriku just one month later and there have been many exchanges and activities since. I applaud ANZ’s very significant contribution in support of Minami Sanriku’s recovery and the ongoing relationship between the town and Australia.”
Lend Lease Japan provided project management services throughout the building’s construction on a pro-bono basis, and ensured that Australian cultural themes were applied to the building’s design as tribute to Australia’s strong support.
ANZ has operated in Japan since 1969 and has three branches in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya, providing full corporate and institutional banking services, wealth management and retail banking products and services.