How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Japanese American groups, businesses step up quake relief efforts

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

A sign at the entrance to the Mitsuwa Marketplace in Torrance, March 15, 2011

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.

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Five disaster zones to remember, along with Japan

Photo by U.S. Marine Corps/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Since Friday, international aid organizations have been focused on the unfolding disaster in Japan, where supplies are running short and the death toll continues to mount after last week's devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake and the deadly tsunami flooding that followed.

But there are other, deadlier crises these groups contend with that go largely ignored, Tom Paulson of Multi-American's sister blog Humanosphere in Seattle reported last week. Paulson spoke with representatives from the relief organizations World Vision and Mercy Corps who told him that while sudden disasters elicit an outpouring of public support and donations, it's more difficult to get the public to pay attention to chronic catastrophes that play out on a daily basis.

Some, like the aftermath of last year's disastrous quake in Haiti, continue to get some attention and receive support. Others have gone on so long they have become background noise.

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Japanese American, other organizations in Southern California pull together for quake relief

Photo by emrank/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A television screen in Nagoya, Japan displays a news report, March 11, 2011

Two large fundraising events for victims of last week's devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake in northeastern Japan last week are taking place all day today at Angel Stadium in Anaheim and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, where "drive-through" donations for the American Red Cross's relief effort are being accepted.

The Japan America Society of Southern California has information on both events posted on its website; the organization's president, Doug Erber, said the Los Angeles Dodgers organization approached the group Friday with the idea of helping out and it went from there. Both events today are being hosted by the Red Cross and by ABC Chanel 7, which is promoting today's fundraisers.

A similar event is happening tomorrow at Dodger Stadium, this one hosted by NBC Channel 4.

Japanese Americans have been raising funds in a number of different ways, setting up everything from relief funds to donation boxes in hotel lobbies, like at the Intercontinental Hotel in Century City, a property that's owned by a Japanese company. Some people have taken up individual collections, like a woman who raised more than $3,200 solo over the weekend, said Erber, whose group has urged its members to donate online to relief efforts. An arts collective has put together its own fundraiser for the victims.

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Site posts updates from Japan that are simple, heartbreaking

Photo by Anna Armstrong/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A tsunami warning sign on a Japanese beach, July 2004

Throughout the day, as I've followed news of the continuing devastation in northeastern Japan after its 8.9 magnitude quake, I've linked a couple of times to one website that keeps drawing me back for its succinct updates. The website of Roound, a mobile technology startup out of Singapore, has set up a page on which constant updates are posted from Tokyo as developments occur.

The updates, taken from news sources in Japan, are short and terse, giving it the feel of something between a Twitter feed (which it also is, @alertdisaster) and a scrolling ticker. And they are in English, which helps.

"Airport in Sendai is now completely submerged under water," one update reads. "It is a true devastating disaster."

The scope of the disaster, with its mounting death toll, the flooding, raging fires, a damaged nuclear reactor and mass evacuations, is truly dizzying. But there was a simple update on the Roound feed about half an hour ago that brought it down to human scale:

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Japan quake draws links, comments and prayers on Facebook

Photo by Making-Things-Better/Flickr (Creative Commons)


As has become the norm during world events lately, one of the ways in which people have been getting togehter to provide information, ask questions or simply comment on the killer earthquake that struck Japan yesterday afternoon is on Facebook.

In the time since the quake hit off the country's northeast coast, a series of English-language pages dedicated to the earthquake have sprung up on which people are posting good wishes or valuable tools, like links to the bilingual Google Person Finder page specific to the disaster.

Some Japanese American Facebook group pages have been active also, like that of the Japan Society of San Diego and Tijuana. From the page this morning:

My family in Yokohama said this is the biggest earthquake ever felt there. 10 hours later, the land was still shaking. They have their shoes on in the house ready to evacuate!! I could not get hold of them by phone, but I did through email which went to their cell phone as a form of text. (Thank goodness for the internet!!) My heart goes to the people in Miyagi where devastating Tsunami hit.

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