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Exhibition World | Japan crisisTHE MAGAZINE FOR THE GLOBAL EXHIBITION COMMUNITY WWW.EXHIBITION-WORLD.NET| April 2011|15Tokyo industry speaksout on Japan disasterThe magnitude 9.0 earthquake thatstruck north east Japan at 5pm on11 March, subsequent tsunamiand damage to the Fukushima Dai-ichinuclear power facility, have combined tobecome one of the worst disasters inJapan's history.Responding to widespread civiliandisplacement, Tokyo's largest venue, TokyoBig Sight, confirmed it is to shelter 3,000evacuees from the stricken area. It's ameasure we saw put into practice at theErnest N. Morial Convention Center afterHurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005.More than 350,000 people were still living in evacuationcentres or temporary housing in northern and easternJapan at time of writing, the majority short of food, waterand fuel. In Tokyo however, major roads to the worst-affected areas were reopened to traffic, and the bullettrains have also returned to service, making it easier to getrelief supplies to the area. According to a spokesman for Tokyo Big Sight, homeof the Tokyo International Motor Show, the structure ofthe exhibition centre remains undamaged by theearthquake. However, scheduled internationalexhibitions have been postponed.Tad Ishizumi, president of Reed Exhibitions Japan andchairman of the Japanese Exhibition Association (JEXA),told EWhe hopes the situation for Tokyo's exhibitionsector will return to normal before long."Despite theseterrible circumstances, we feel fortunate and lucky," hesaid. "We found no employees injured andno relatives of our employees killed orinjured so far."However he confirmed the impact of theearthquake was felt at Reed's office in thecapital. "The office was shaken so hard thatall our employees could not stand still, butthe damage to the office was pretty small."Ishizumi added that Tokyo was not hostinga show when the disaster struck. "Had theaccident happened the previous week,when we hold one of our largest shows - theRenewable Energy Expo - it would havebeen totally disastrous and chaotic."Reed Japan was forced to cancel two 'pre-exhibitseminars for exhibitor' events, scheduled for 14 and 15March, both of which catered for 500 exhibitors andprospects. The organiser is evaluating alternative dates forthe meetings."Japan has been hit by its largest ever earthquake andtsunami. The sad thing is that the number of casualties isincreasing and the damage to infrastructure is becomingbigger as the time goes by," Ishizumi added.So now begins the road to recovery. At time of writing,power had been restored to the reactors in Fukushima,where workers were fighting to stem a radioactive leak. Butwith so many troubles ahead to manage, Ishizumi said theJapanese exhibition market has determined to resolvethem one by one. Basic amenities taken for granted haveto be re-established before progress can be made and theinternational market re-engaged."We could not communicate with other countries untilnow because our infrastructure was completely damaged,including telephone, transportation, electricity and water,"he said. "But in the Tokyo area we are now in a much bettersituation than other parts of Japan."Commentators estimate the cost of Japan's repair ataround US$150bn. It's a huge task, so let's hope Tokyo'sinternational exhibition business recovers soon; there hasnever been a more important time for overseas business toinvest in Japan. You can follow Japan's road to recovery online by IshizumiRepresentatives of the Tokyo exhibition industry speak to EWin the aftermath ofthe earthquake and tsunami that rocked the capital and laid waste to vast swathesof land in the north east of the country.