Statement by Ichiro Iwai,
Nara Machizukuri Centre
Aceh region has a long and
brilliant history as an exchange point between the East and the West. Islamic
culture was first introduced to this region from the Middle East and spread
over the Southeast Asia.
The earthquake and the tsunami
completely destroyed Aceh coastal region and many thousands of people fell
The heritage of Aceh is in
crisis after the disaster. Conserving and restoring heritage is very important
in the process of recovery, and should be considered together with humanitarian
issues. Saving heritage is very essential for the psychological support of
the disaster victims, to provide moral encouragement and help them recover
The respect for multi-cultural
heritage is the key to the interchange and the co-existence among different
ethnic groups. It is therefore very important for Japanese NPOs and other
organisations to support the heritage conservation activities in Aceh for
the above reasons. Aceh historically had a strong relationship with Penang
and this is evident in Acheen Street and the mosque quarter in George Town.
As one Acehnese Wiratmadinata
said in an interview, "There are no reports about this because nobody's thinking
about buildings or arts," he said, "I care. I am Acehnese, I don't want to
lose my identity."
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