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English teacher is first confirmed American tsunami victim

English teacher is first confirmed American tsunami victim

Taylor Anderson, 24, is the first confirmed American victim of the March 11 tsunami. (Facebook profile picture)

Taylor Anderson from Richmond, Va., is the first known American victim of the March 11 tsunami. The tsunami hit the Tohoku region of Japan after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast. (See timeline.)

Anderson, 24, taught English as an Assistant Language Teacher in Ishinomaki, Miyagi. She had moved to Japan in 2008 as a participant in the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program after graduating from Randolph-Macon College. She was planning to return to the U.S. this summer. She was last seen riding her bike away from Ishinomaki Elementary School shortly after the earthquake hit.

This story has hit close to home for me. While I had never met Taylor, we did have a friend in common. We both arrived in Japan on the same day in 2008 as participants in the JET Program, stayed in the same hotel in Tokyo, sat through the same orientation. We were both leaving an elementary school by bike shortly after the earthquake struck. We were both planning to return home this summer. Since I hadn’t requested a specific placement in Japan, it is only by blind luck that I had been placed in Okayama, which wasn’t hit by the earthquake or tsunami, instead of Miyagi.

Authorities are still struggling to identify almost 13,000 people believed to be missing. I imagine more Americans will be affected by this disaster as more bodies are identified.



Dustin Dye

Dustin Dye is the author of the YAKUZA DYNASTY series, available through the Amazon Kindle.

He lived in Okayama, Japan, where he taught English at a junior high school through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program for three years. He is a graduate from the University of Kansas, where he received a bachelor's degree in anthropology.

His interest in Japan began in elementary school after seeing Godzilla fight Ghidorah, the three-headed monster. But it wasn't until he discovered Akira Kurosawa's films through their spaghetti Western remakes that he truly became fascinated in the people and culture of Japan.

He lives in Kansas with his wife, daughter and guinea pig.

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E-mail him: [email protected]