Moai statue from Chile set up in disaster-hit northeast Japan

A moai statue from Chile's Easter Island that was presented to Japan as a gift in the wake of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami was erected Thursday at a temporary shopping area in the town of Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, on the Pacific coast of northeastern Japan.

Workers spent about two hours putting up the statue, which weighs around 2 tons and is 3 meters high.

A 44-year-old official of the Minamisanriku town government who watched the installment said he hopes the statue will be seen by as many visitors as possible and that it will help promote the reconstruction of the town.

The town of Minamisanriku was damaged by a tsunami caused by a huge temblor that struck Chile in 1960. In 1991, the South American nation presented a moai statue to Minamisanriku as a gift to deepen friendship between the two countries. But the statue -- which was crafted from stone from mainland Chile -- was damaged by the tsunami that followed the magnitude 9.0 earthquake that devastated northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera Echenique promised to give a new moai statue to the town.

The statue, made of stone from Easter Island, reached Tokyo port by cargo vessel in December 2012 and was shown to viewers at exhibitions in Tokyo and Osaka before reaching Minamisanriku.