SINGAPORE: The Singapore Red Cross has opened a S$5 million nursery school in Shichigahama, Japan.
The town was hit by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.
The Shichigahama Toyama Nursery School was set up in 1975 and was badly damaged in the disaster. It was later rebuilt.
The school is one of several rebuilding projects the Singapore Red Cross has undertaken as part of its overall support for the disaster relief and recovery efforts in areas hit by the tsunami.
Secretary General of Singapore Red Cross Benjamin William said: "The completion of Shichigahama Toyama Nursery School heralds a new beginning for the children of Shichigahama town. We are glad to be here - in the third spring after the earthquake and tsunami - to present the young ones with a head start in life, to pave the way for a bright future."
The school has the capacity for 90 children; this is more than half the number of children in the town.
The school is constructed on elevated ground so that it can also serve as an evacuation centre for future emergencies.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the school, Singapore's Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Sam Tan said: "Singapore and Singaporeans will continue to support Japan and the people of Japan in their time of need. Today is a happy occasion, and we stand with you to celebrate the joy of hope and renewal, our common desire to raise our children as beacons of the future, and the enduring friendship between the peoples of Singapore and Japan."
Mayor of Shichigahama Town Yoshio Watanabe said: "We have lost many things due to the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake... This is an irreplaceable treasure which gives us strength. For this debt of gratitude, we will do our utmost to nurture children who are the bearers of the future of Shichigahama at this nursery and make Shichigahama a wonderful town." - CNA/jc
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