Local leaders urge Angelenos to support earthquake relief in Japan

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Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty Images

Salvaged sculptures are placed beside a road in Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture on March 29, 2011. The earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan caused at least $200 billion in damage, estimate officials.

About 50 Los Angeles city officials and Japanese leaders met Tuesday to encourage more support from the Southland to earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan. Many on the panel spoke about the millions of dollars companies, schools and charities have already donated. But they say the stricken country will need much more help.

Japanese Consul General Junichi Ihara was among those who attended. He said the outpouring of support, especially from Los Angeles, overwhelms him.

“It will be, however, important to make sure that the assistance matches the particular needs of each individual and community," Ihara cautioned. "In this regard, I believe that Los Angeles has an advantage. You can make use of your close relationships and longtime connections with Japan and Japanese (people).”

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa attended the meeting. He and other leaders encouraged Angelenos to continue to find ways they can support relief efforts. Some panel members suggested entertainment events and fundraisers.

Officials estimate that the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan caused at least $200 billion in damage, and say that figure could grow much higher.

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