I lived in Japan for more than 20 years so I have special feelings about the place, but I have to say that the blogs that are coming out saying we should not contribute to Japan because they are a rich country are just out of line.
Japan Was Big Katrina Aid Contributor
I wanted to pass on this important article:
15 September 2005
Japan Proves Truly “A Friend Indeed” After Hurricane Katrina
Japanese government, companies, individuals send assistance to victims
By Jane Morse
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington — If the saying “a friend in need is a friend indeed” is true, Japan is one of the best friends the United States ever could have to provide support while so many Americans are suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Japanese private citizens and the government alike have sent a virtual tsunami of assistance to the victims of Katrina, which devastated 90,000 square miles along the U.S. Gulf Coast in August. Hundreds of thousands of people lost their homes and hundreds lost their lives.
Japan has pledged more than $1.5 million in private donations. The government of Japan has donated $200,000 in cash to the American Red Cross and some $800,000 in relief supplies — from blankets to generators — already are arriving to aid the most needy. Japanese firms with operations in the United States have donated some $12 million in total, including Honda Motor Corporation ($5 million), Hitachi ($1 million) and Nissan (more than $750,000).
The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo was overwhelmed by the generosity of one Japanese individual — Takashi Endo — who donated $1 million from his personal funds to Katrina relief efforts. Endo said he was moved when, during a business trip to London, he saw a televised report about a mother separated from her children in the chaos of the flooding in New Orleans. The story so disturbed him he could not sleep that night; the next morning he resolved to do something to help.
Yuji Takahashi, president and chief executive officer of the Japan Petroleum Exploration Company Ltd., which has operations off the coast of Louisiana, donated $100,000 to U.S. federal government hurricane relief efforts. Takahashi said that when he learned of the destruction caused by the hurricane, he felt as if his own family had been affected.
In a note accompanying the donation, Takahashi said: “I have no doubt that your people will stand in the face of difficulties and rebuild their lives in the near future.”
Private citizens have sent the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo more than $2,000, and the embassy’s Web site and telephone operators have directed hundreds of inquirers to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund Web site as well as the American Red Cross, the Japanese Red Cross Society and Peace Winds donation sites.
Mayors from cities all over Japan have donated tens of thousands of dollars. Governor Hirohiko Izumida of Niigata Prefecture, for example, provided a donation of roughly $9,000 while stressing the ties of mutual friendship and gratitude that link the people of Niigata and the United States. Niigata suffered a devastating earthquake in December 2004 and received substantial U.S. aid, including logistical and material assistance from the American military.
The Korean Residents’ Union in Japan, known as Mindan, donated more than $50,000. Mindan’s president, Jae Sook Kim, said upon presenting the check to Ambassador Thomas Schieffer that Koreans felt a deep sense of appreciation to the United States, which “has fought by Korea’s side for 60 years of freedom and democracy.”
Kim noted that the United States has accepted millions of Korean immigrants. When America hurts, Kim said, “Koreans feel the same pain.”
The Youth for Understanding Japan Foundation has pledged $45,000, and the Chiba Lotte Marines professional baseball team has started what will be an ongoing campaign to raise funds from fans to help victims of Katrina as well as the recent Typhoon No. 14 in Japan.
NHK-TV, Japan’s leading national broadcaster, has partnered with the Japanese Red Cross for a nationwide fundraising drive. NHK is running regular public service announcements instructing viewers how to donate via bank transfer or in person at any NHK or Red Cross office throughout the country. The campaign will run for one month, from September 6 to October 6. Fuji TV network is running a similar campaign.
A number of Japanese jazz greats and other leaders of the music and entertainment industries have banded together for a major “Hurricane Aid Japan” campaign running through December. Donations will be solicited at numerous concerts nationwide. Record companies and others will put banners on their Web sites and individual artists will collect donations. There is already a Japanese-language Web site up and running, with an English version to follow soon.
One of Japan’s leading nationwide retailers, the AEON group, has started to collect donations for the victims of Hurricane Katrina at some 700 stores throughout Japan. The campaign will run September 3-20. During this same period, the chain also will donate 1 percent of all sales proceeds for customers using the popular members’ discount cards.
The Japanese Red Cross Society, in addition to acting as a major conduit for individual and corporate donations to Katrina relief, announced it would donate $200,000 of its own funds to support hurricane relief activities of its sister organization, the American Red Cross.
All three Japanese international air carriers (ANA, JAL, NCA) have offered free use of empty cargo capacity to transport relief supplies to the United States.
J. Thomas Schieffer, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, has been kept very busy acknowledging all of Japan’s generous donors; many have and will receive his personal thanks.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed her “heartfelt thanks” September 2 for the “warm and passionate response” from the international community. (See related article.)
And President Bush, in a September 14 address to more than 160 leaders attending the United Nations General Assembly meetings in New York, observed that the “awesome power of nature” has unleashed “the greater power of human compassion.” (See related article.)
Addressing Japan and the more than 115 countries that have come to the aid of Hurricane Katrina’s victims, Bush said: “I offer the thanks of my nation…. (T)he world is more compassionate and hopeful when we act together.”
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