Board Member”s Message
by Kirk Tambara
A Glimpse of Hope
The Portland JACL would like to express our heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families who have been affected by the recent disaster in Japan.
On Friday March 11, 2011 at 2:46 pm JST a massive 9.0 magnitude megathrust earthquake lasting over six minutes occurred 81 miles off of the east coast of Japan near Sendai. Destructive tsunami waves triggered by the earthquake over 30 feet high, hit Japan’s coastline within minutes. These tsunami waves surged as far as west coast of the United States all the way down to Chile. In Japan, whole towns were swept away without a trace.
A man in devastated area hit by earthquake and tsunami in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture in northern Japan, March 15, 2011. Photo: REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon, courtesy Trust.org – AlertNet.
The earthquake and subsequent tsunami has left tens of thousands dead or unaccounted for, with many more hundreds of thousands evacuated or otherwise displaced all across Japan’s Tohoku region. The devastation has left 4.4 million households without electricity and another 1.5 million households without adequate water. Added into this mix of misery, the Japanese now have radiation containment issues at the Daiichi Fukushima nuclear power station as well as other areas to contend with.
Mercy Corps responds to the earthquake and tsunami that devastated northern Japan on March 11. Photo: Reuters/Carlos Barria, courtesy Trust.org — AlertNet
In the face of a tragedy like this, it is amazing to see the selfless consideration that the Japanese people have shown one another. Unlike what happened in Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, where the ugly side of mankind was exposed for the world to see, it is uplifting to see the exact opposite play out in Japan. Accounts of people lining up in orderly fashion for hours at a time at stores and airports were commonplace. There were no reports of looting, instead the news outlets have had ample opportunity to focus on the magnanimous side of humanity. Stories ranging from acts of outright heroism during the immediate crisis, to the simple gesture of a shopkeeper sweeping broken glass and rubble out of the way of people passing by serve as an example of how differently the Japanese people have coped with this disaster. The one word that comes to mind is, “gaman.”
While it is impossible to quantify the impact to families for the loss of their loved ones, estimates of the economic loss for just the Tohoku region alone are currently closing in on two hundred billion dollars. The real damage to property and lives will be added up for months and quite possibly years to come.
Organizations like JACL and the Oregon Japan Relief Fund are working quickly to raise funds for the victims of this devastating disaster. Currently, organizations like Direct Relief International and Mercy Corps are working tirelessly to provide relief to the hundreds of thousands of people in need of aid in Japan.
Initial relief efforts focus on providing basic necessities like instant rice, fresh produce, and potable water to providing temporary shelters and distributing blankets and medical aid. The cost of these efforts is enormous.
During a terrible crisis like this, people from all walks of life find themselves thrust into a situation where they have the opportunity to look after their own self interests or help their fellow man. In these moments when no one else is looking, they define their true character. Having seen a behind the scenes glimpse of some of the efforts of our friends and neighbors to help the victims from the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, I am truly humbled. Just like the countless images and stories filtering in from Japan of people selflessly looking out for their fellow man, I have witnessed many members of our own community take it upon themselves to make a difference.
To that end, I urge you each to take a look at what you can do to help out. Whether it is volunteering your time and efforts or donating what you can to help organizations like Direct Relief International and Mercy Corps carry out their humanitarian relief efforts. Your help is needed now more than ever.
Direct Relief International
27 S. La Patera Lane
Santa Barbara, CA 93117
PO Box 2669, Dept W
Portland, OR 97208-2669
Domo Arigato Gozaimasu
Left: Visitors tie condolence messages onto the “Wish Abor” for the earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan. Right: Visitors offer incense for the earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan.
All images courtesy of Rich Iwasaki, © 2011 Rich Iwasaki