JAPAN QUAKE REMEMBERED: 'Candle Night' to be held in Taiwan, Japan

Taipei, March 10 (CNA) Candlelit memorial services will be held simultaneously in Taiwan and Japan to mark the second anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that battered northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011. The services will take place in the Dadaocheng area in Taipei and in Matsudo in Japan's Chiba Prefecture on Monday night, said Japanese artist Lily Ikeda, the mastermind behind the events, in Taipei Sunday. The venue in Taipei is also hosting a photo exhibition introducing the daily lives of residents of Fukushima prefecture -- one of the areas hardest hit by the twin disasters in 2011 -- Ikeda told CNA. After the earthquake and tsunami led to meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, many people have come to equate Fukushima Prefecture with radiation contamination, she said. But through the activities, "I want to call for more caring of residents in Fukushima," the 30-year-old Fukushima native said. Many of the 40 photos -- taken not by professional photographers but by local people -- chronicle the reconstruction efforts of residents in the area trying to get their lives back to normal, while others show post-disaster scenes, said Ikeda, who is on a months-long trip to Taiwan. Visitors to the photo exhibition can also fold paper cranes to offer symbolic blessings to those whose lives were upended by the natural disasters, which caused the deaths of nearly 20,000 people. On Sunday, the eve of the second anniversary of the March 11 disasters, visitors will be able to light one of some 700 candles that will be available as a blessing to Japan, Ikeda said. The Japanese artist said she decided to hold the events in Dadaocheng and Matsudo because both are undergoing renewal projects to transform the old towns. Ikeda, who is based in Matsudo, said she traveled to Taiwan for pleasure in early January and will return home in early April. The Taipei event is being organized with the help of Alex Chiu, a Taiwanese native born in Dadaocheng, who works as a tour guide and runs a bed-and-breakfast to promote tourism in his hometown. (By Elaine Hou)