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One year since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

One year has already passed since this dreadful event. I would like to reiterate my deepest sympathies to the victims, their families, and their friends. To the local people engaged in relentless reconstruction work and those still dependent on external help, I also profoundly wish that the recovery progresses as smoothly and as rapidly as possible, so that everyone can soon enjoy an environment where they can live peacefully.

We recently asked everyone to share their stories of March 11th on our blog. It makes our jobs at Skype so much more meaningful to hear how a simple communications tool can touch the lives of so many in times of hardship.

I would also like to take this opportunity to share a bit of my own experience of March 11th a year ago when the Tsunami hit.

I happened to be on a business trip in Amsterdam when the tragedy struck. I remember my boss waking me up screaming after seeing the images of the disaster on the TV monitor in his hotel room. “Shin! Something terrible happened in Japan!”. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the shots of the tsunami waves. I hurried to check out and when I arrived in the lobby I was greeted by my worried Skype colleagues who had gathered in Amsterdam from various countries.

The Japan team was supposed to fly back to Tokyo that day, but we heard that our flight had been cancelled. Even more striking was the fact that Narita and Haneda Airports were closed. Following the advice of our boss, we decided to go to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and wait for news from our company. We were wondering whether to stay on standby at the Dutch airport or to fly into an Asian terminal such as Hong Kong or Singapore and then find a solution there.

The most important thing for us was to secure a way back to Japan, so the team and I hurried to the airport. While we were waiting for further information from our company, I tried to call my family. As many people were attempting the same thing, mobile phones as well as family landlines were down, but I managed to reach my family using Skype for iPhone. In far-away Europe, with no prospect of a return flight, thanks to Skype for iPhone, I was enveloped by a huge sense of relief when I saw the familiar faces of my family.

A few hours later, we managed to arrange a flight via Seoul Incheon Aiport to Chubu Centrair International Airport. We then took a bullet train from Nagoya and, amidst utter chaos, we managed to reach Tokyo with only one day of delay. While on my way, I used Skype several times to contact my family.

Both as an employee and a user, I am grateful that Skype enabled me to stay in touch with my loved ones in a time of crisis when I was miles away from home and other means of communications were unavailable.

Our mission is to be the global communications provider that billions of people depend on every day to share experiences. Whether its in times of crisis or in daily life, we hope to enable you to bring your Skype conversations with you everywhere you go, so your friends and family are never too far away.

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