How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Far from Japan, a year later (Video)

Far From Home from KPCC on Vimeo.

Far From Home from KPCC on Vimeo.

This Sunday will mark a year since what's become known as the Great East Japan Earthquake struck off the northeastern coast of Japan. The magnitude 9.0 quake, and a massive subsequent tsunami, left more than 15,000 dead and thousands more injured. More than 3,000 people remain missing and many survivors are still homeless. The quake, one of the biggest in recorded history, also prompted the failure of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. It was far the worst crisis experienced since World War II by Japan, which is still recovering from the devastation.

I'm reposting this video from the days after the quake struck, filmed by KPCC's Grant Slater and Faun Kime. It captures the desperation felt by those with loved ones in Japan as experienced by Tony Tsukui, the employee of a Japanese company in Southern California who despaired in Los Angeles while his wife and children remained in Tokyo, far from the quake but affected nonetheless. It also features footage from a memorial service for victims held in L.A.'s Little Tokyo in the days following the disaster, in which the participants' shock and grief is palpable.


KPCC joins Japan quake relief effort this weekend

Photo by Dominic Alvez/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A donation bucked in Brighton, England, March 25, 2011

More than a month after a magnitude 9 earthquake and the resulting tsunami devastated northeastern Japan, international relief efforts continue to build, and for good reason. At least 150,000 remain homeless, many of the estimated 28,000 people who perished are still unaccounted for, millions are without water or power, and an ailing nuclear plant continues to be a threat.

Over the past month, Japanese American groups, businesses large and small, commercial media outlets and a broad smattering of celebrities have joined efforts to raise money for quake recovery. This weekend, 89.3 KPCC is joining the cause.

The station has partnered with the California Community Foundation and the U.S.-Japan Council for a weekend-long fund raising drive. Donations will go to the Red Cross, the International Medical Corps, Save the Children and to Japanese NGOs. More details are posted on the station's website.


Superheroes needed: Power Rangers join Japan quake relief drive

Photo by Álvaro Felipe/Flickr (creative Commons)

In the two weeks since northeastern Japan was devastated by a magnitude 9 earthquake and tsunami, among the growing list of donors to relief efforts have been the Japanese companies that have operations in Southern California, even some in Baja California.

The latest on this list is Bandai, the toy company and purveyor of Japanese superhero action figures, most famously the Power Rangers.

Donors who stop by Bandai America's headquarters in Cypress between noon and 7 p.m. today for a drive-through fundraiser will get to meet characters from the Samurai Power Rangers, Ben 10 and Swampfire, Lassie the dog and Tamagotchi. Goodie bags are promised, too.

The Bandai drive takes place at 5551 Katella Avenue in Cypress and will benefit American Red Cross relief efforts. Cash and check donations (not food or clothes) are being accepted. Bandai and several related businesses, among them the entertainment company Saban, are part of the effort. Bandai America plans to make a matching contribution for personal donations.


Multilingual Nikkei site posts quake related updates, much more

Photo by Sheep"R"Us/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A Japanese Buddhist temple in São Paolo, Brazil, December 2008

The term nikkei doesn't just refer to the Tokyo stock market index, but to Japanese immigrants and their descendants, the Japanese diaspora that has fanned out around the world as the result of migration. And there is a website in English, Japanese, Spanish and Portuguese - yes, Spanish and Portuguese - that has been keeping that diaspora abreast of post-earthquake developments in Japan, along with nikkei stories from around the world.

Discover Nikkei is a project of Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, intended to connect people of Japanese descent around the globe. In addition to its features, among them a piece on Japanese Cubans and photos of a Brazilian community in Japan, the site has been posting a regular stream of Twitter updates and retweets (in English) on its front page with news related to the quake aftermath and the response abroad, including relief efforts by Japanese American groups spanning the United States from California to Minnesota.