Japan’s heartbreak

By admin
25 March 2011

The message on the sign is quite simple: “I will come at 11 o’clock tomorrow so please wait. I will come again tomorrow.”

These poignant words, scribbled on a piece of cardboard in colourful koki pens by nine-year-oldToshihito Aisawa, have touched the hearts of millions around the world. It’s a message of hope in the face of complete destruction – and an almost futile determination to find the loved ones he has lost.

The sign also bears the names of Toshihito’s parents and grandmother, from whom he was separated when Japan’s devastating tsunami struck.

He has walked from shelter to shelter in the coastal city of Ishinomaki, hoping to find his family in spite of a very limited chance of success.

The boy’s stoic willpower is inspirational and heartrending, says family friend Mitsunari Kitahara, who has been looking after Toshihito since the killer waves swept across Japan’s northern coastline. “I’m sure it’s been tough on him but I’ve never seen him cry.”

Toshihito’s moving tale is one of many coming out of Japan as the Asian nation picks up the pieces after the earthquake and tsunami that claimed the lives of nearly 10 000.

Some are tales of joy, others of despair: an 80-year-old and her teenage grandson rescued from under piles of rubble nine days after the quake; 30 young schoolchildren waiting patiently for their parents to collect them from school several days after the tsunami; an elderly man found clutching a photo album of his grandchildren that he’d run to save when the black wave wiped out entire towns; people eating out of bins to survive – and dogs protecting one another while bereft animal owners grieve over their pets.

Nine-year-old Kentaro Miura dissolves in tears when he speaks about his dog, Kuro, that drowned. “It was my ninth birthday,” he says. “It was definitely the worst birthday of my life.”

But a heartwarming tale emerged from the destruction: a dog that refused to leave his injured pal. In a moving video clip the canine sticks close to his friend and tries to help him up.

They were rescued and taken to an animal shelter but it’s unlikely their owners will be found, rescuers say.

Use the tag reader app to snap the tag in YOU, 31 March 2011 with your phone to see a clip of the dogs.

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