Friday, December 1, 2017

USMCA Symposium 2017 @ Sendai (26-29 Nov 2017)

Hello readers, it’s me Seemanta (サム).

This article is about the 16th INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON NEW TECHNOLOGIES FOR URBAN SAFETY OF MEGA CITIES IN ASIA (USMCA 2017), Kawasaki-sensei, Dr. Ralph, Gouri-san, Moiz, Mohsan-san and I attended at Sendai during 26-29 November 2017.

This year, USMCA was held as a part of the World Bosai Forum (WBF). Registration started from 9:00 am at the Sendai International Center, following which the forum sessions started at 10:00 am. Several high-level talks were given by many prominent persons in the field of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) based on Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction focusing on Sustainable Development and Build Back Better.
Kawasaki-group in front of the Sendai International Center
 After the opening sessions of WBF, we moved to the International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS) of the Tohoku University. We received our lunch boxes there. USMCA 2017 officially began with the welcome remarks by Prof. Osamu Murao (IRIDeS) and Prof. Kimiro Meguro (UTokyo).
There were 2 Research Sessions consisting of 3 parallel sessions each with 9-10 presenters. A total of 55 presentations; from Bangladesh, China, France, Hungary, India, Israel, Myanmar, Pakistan, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, The Philippines, The United Kingdom, Vietnam, and Japan, were presented. All the presentations were finished by 6:10 pm.
At 7:00 pm all the students and staffs of UTokyo had a group dinner at a local restaurant named “Rikyu”. Sendai is famous of Gyutan (Beef Tongue). Most of us enjoyed it, except for a few of us (including me) who have some food restrictions.
Dinner @ Rikyo, Sendai
Next morning (27th November) started with the forum session # 19 (under WBF organized by USMCA) – Global Risk with “Tangible Earth”. The keynote speaker was Prof. Shinichi Takemura from NPO Earth Literacy Program, Japan. TANGIBLE EARTH is the world’s first interactive digital globe that dynamically represents various aspects of the earth.
Next was the “Excellent Young Researcher Award” ceremony. Four presenters/researchers were award the award. Our very own Abdul Moiz also received this award.
Moiz receiving the Excellent Young Researcher Award. Sorry for the poor quality.
Later Prof Pradeep Kumar Ramancharla from Indian Institutue of Information Technology (IIIT), Hydrabad, India gave a brief presentation introducing IIIT, where the USMCA 2018 will be held. That concluded the USMCA 2017.

At around 2:00 pm we (Dr. Ralph, Gouri-san, Moiz, Mohsan and I) went to Matsushima, a famous tourist attraction. We took the ferry which toured us around the islands in that region. Surprisingly, almost all the shops and other places were closed by sunset (around 4:30 pm). So we had to return back after the ferry trip.
@Matsushima cruise
We then went around the Sendai city and had dinner in an Indian restaurant (Moiz and Mohsan, due to their food restrictions, had difficulty eating food in the last 2 days).
Moiz and Mohsan look very happy
On 28th morning, Gouri-san, Moiz, Mohsan and I took the study trip organized by WBF. We went to many places around Sendai. The main attraction was the Sendai Arahama Elementary School – A ruin of the Great East Japan Earthquake. The first floor was completely inundated and the tsunami water reached the second floor.
Arahama Elementary School - A ruin of the Great East Japan Earthquake
We came back to the Sendai International Center at around 12:00 pm. Gouri-san then went back to Tokyo via Shinkansen. We, however, got the opportunity to join an excursion by WBF (we registered online more than a month ago). It started at around 13:30 (we got our lunch boxes in the bus). We were fortunate enough to go to the Naraha Remote Technology Development Center. This was a very special case. In general, this facility is not open to general public. They should us their state of the art VR room where they train special personals to aid the decommissioning process of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power plant. We could also see many of the robots, drones and other mock-up stairs/facilities.
Some pics at the Naraha Remote Technology Development Center
 We spent the night at the Spa Resort Hawaiians, a very famous resort. We had a good buffet dinner followed by the resort’s special night show.
Special night show @ Spa Resort Hawaiians
 Next morning (29th) we went around the Iwaki to learn about the reconstruction of Iwaki from "Kataribe"(People talked about their experiences of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the history, culture and life of the area). We had lunch at Iwaki Lalamew. It was a seafood BBQ place.
Image of local residents living at a temporary evacuation center

Seafood BBQ for lunch @ Iwaki Lalamew
The last destination was the Aquamarine Fukushima, one of the best in Japan. It was damaged by the 2011 earthquake. Around 90% of the fish were dead and following the nuclear disaster, the number of annual visitors also decreased by around 40%. Although the facility recovered completely (structure and marine lifeforms), the visitor number is still much lower than before.
Some pictures at Aquamarine Fukushima
 That concluded the excursion as well as this blog. We would like to thank the USMCA organizing committee and everyone involved for a successful symposium; and WBF & Nippon Travel Agency (NTA) for organizing the study trip and this wonderful excursion. That's all for this time. See you later!

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