How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Japanese American groups, businesses step up quake relief efforts

A sign at the entrance to the Mitsuwa Marketplace in Torrance, March 15, 2011
A sign at the entrance to the Mitsuwa Marketplace in Torrance, March 15, 2011 Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

As northeastern Japan struggles to recover from last Friday's magnitude 9 earthquake and the deadly tsunami flooding that followed, Japanese American groups and businesses in Southern California have continued expanding efforts to raise money for earthquake relief, with donation boxes at businesses and additional relief funds set up.

UPDATED: On Thursday, the Japanese daily newspaper Rafu Shimpo and the Asian-language television station LA 18 are co-sponsoring a drive-through fundraiser downtown with the American Red Cross and Los Angeles City Council members Jan Perry and Bernard Parks. Between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., people who wish to donate funds can drive north on Main Street and hand donations to volunteers; sidewalk lanes between First and Temple Streets will be closed off for drivers participating. Those wishing to volunteer may call Perry's office at (213) 473-2308.

  • The Gardena-based Japan Business Association of Southern California, (310) 515-9522, has announced that it has set up a relief fund for quake victims and will work to distribute the funds with the Japanese consulate in Los Angeles.

  • The Japan America Society of Southern California, (213) 627-6217, has been urging members to donate online or by text to the American Red Cross, in addition to setting up its own relief fund. The Los Angeles group helped promote drive-through fundraisers sponsored by the Red Cross and local television stations at Dodger Stadium, Angel Stadium and the Rose Bowl earlier this week.

  • On Thursday, the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, (213) 628-2725, will hold a 6:30 p.m. "hope and memorial service" for Friday's earthquake and tsunami victims in its Little Tokyo plaza at 244 South San Pedro Street. Representatives from relief funds will be there for those who wish to donate.

Businesses catering the Japanese American customers have also been helping out. At the cavernous Mitsuwa Marketplace in Torrance, one of a chain of retail centers that hosts a Japanese grocery store, restaurant, bookstore and other businesses, a donation box for Red Cross contributions has been set up at the customer service counter, with posters directing customers there taped to the doors.

For those donating to international relief groups, KPCC recently posted a link to list of "appropriate disaster relief" organizations; The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department has been warning would-be donors about potential scams, alerting people to be wary of phone solicitations.

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