The Japanese American Association of New York, also known as "JAA" has celebrated our "100 Years of Community Service" in 2007-2008.
"While the beneficiaries of our services have changed over the years, our services have also evolved to meet those needs. Throughout, we remain true to our original mission to serve the Japanese American and Japanese Community."
Honoring Winners of 2013 J.A.A Scholarship Awards
Our Keynote Dinner Speaker Honorable George R. Packard
President of the United States - Japan Foundation
- Thursday, June 6, 2013
- Reception: 6pm | Dinner: 7pm
- The Harvard Club of New York City
- 35 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036
Awards this year include the following:
- Ambassador Shinichi Nishimiya Award
- Mitsui USA Foundation Awards
- Orient Corp. of America Award
- Hartman-Sakazume Award
- TV Japan Award
- Bingham McCutchen Murase Award
- Soji Tomikawa Awards
- Miyoko & John Davey Award
- Toyota Motor North America Award
- ANA Japan Travel Award
... and ...
The 7th JAA Honjo Award for graduate students sponsored by the Honjo Foundation
While several weeks have passed since the tragic earthquake and tsunami hit Northeastern Japan, aftershocks and nuclear fallout from the Fukushima power plant continue to exert emotional and physical strain on the victims, rescue workers and nation as a whole. Their need for financial support during this rehabilitation and rebuilding process is as urgent as ever.
- Make a Check Donation: Payable to Japanese American Association of New York, Inc. (Mail to: Japanese American Association of New York, 15 West 44th Street, 11th Floor New York, NY 10036)
- Call/email for more information: 212-840-6942 or email@example.com
DONATE TO TOHOKU SCHOLARSHIP
"JAA Special Tohoku Area Scholarship Fund" has been established to give a scholarship award to one or more students affected by the earthquake and its aftermath in the Tohoku Area.
If you wish to contribute to this special fund, please make a check payable to the Japanese American Association of New York, Inc. with memo line:Tohoku Scholarship and send it to our office, 15 West 44th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10036
100% of your gift will go to the recipient(s) who will be selected at a later date.
Message From JAA President Gary S. Moriwaki
When I first started writing this on Saturday March 12, I was waiting for my flight at Narita Airport. Although the flight was cancelled I safely arrived home. While things were "calm" in Tokyo, train service was suspended, electric power would go off from time to time and telecom service experienced many delays. And there were of course, the aftershocks... Yet these were minor inconveniences when compared to the terrible suffering experienced by the people of Sendai and throughout Japan. We are all devastated by the destruction and the loss of life and express our condolences to all who have lost friends and family.
As you know, JAA has a long history of not only helping others during times of disaster - 9/11, Tsunami in Indonesia, Haiti Earthquake and Hurricane Katrina - but we were also instrumental in helping the Japanese after World War II through LARA. It is time to do so again. We have been collecting funds for disaster relief in the Tohoku region. $100,000 has been sent to Fukushima and additional funds were sent to Miyagi ken and the Japanese Red Cross. We are considering other NGOs. Since we want to eliminate middlemen to the greatest extent possible and make sure our funds are used most efficiently, we have been conducting extensive due diligence regarding potential recipients.
Because JAA is a community-based organization, our preference is to identify similar organizations that focus on relief for the elderly and others in need. During the next couple of months, many emissaries from JAA will actually be visiting the Tohoku region to speak to NGOs "on the ground." They will report to us and we will fill you in on their findings.
Warmest regards,Gary S. Moriwaki, President
Report from JAA President Mr. Moriwaki
Two Years After
On March 26th I visited Ishinomaki and the surrounding towns with our friends from Peace Boat, with whom we have formed a great partnership.
Traveling along the coast, one is struck by the natural beauty of the mountains, the forests and especially the ocean which, as a bizarre side effect of the tsunami, is amazingly clear. So clear and clean that this years' oyster harvest is expected to be exceptional - they take two years to grow sufficiently.
The main part of "Ishi" (Ishinomaki) is clean and free of debris. The coastal areas however, are unchanged since past visits. Vast areas are debris free but they are actually empty lots, shuttered businesses or are open businesses with few patrons. Very sad. Each time we visit we ask, "are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future of the area". The NGO folks are indomitable, "it's like flying a kite" they say, "only if you go against the wind will you rise".
On the negative front: increasing depression as residents see little progress; more suicides (anecdotal as there seem to be no official records); delayed infrastructure rebuilding or misdirected/ill conceived reconstruction and "hollowing out." This last issue is a major one. Onogawa, a small municipality that is surrounded by Ishinomaki, had a population of 11,000 on March 10, 2011. One year later it was 7,000 and today it is 5,000. The town's main employer is the now shuttered nuclear power plant. Onogawa will probably never recover. Ishinomaki itself has dwindled from 150,000 to less than 120,000 and is losing 1,000 people per month. Again once the young and vigorous people who have moved away are entrenched in their new lives, Ishinomaki will be hard pressed to attract them back. Further, the construction boom now being experienced in many areas of Tohoku will come to an end - although this is something of a misnomer since a lot of the construction is actually the demolition of existing dangerous structures.
And yet signs of hope. The Manga Museum is open for business. Oyster and nori processing plants have restarted or begun anew. One nori plant we visited owned by a Mr. Abe has gone into a business partnership with a non profit-great nori by the way. Peace Boat, following the example of WWOOF, is embedding 20-25 volunteers a week with oyster farmers and nori farmers to perform tough manual labor. The volunteers are expected to stay in touch with the farmers so that they and their friends may become customers of the farmers. There is use of social media and the Internet as well. An idea still on the drawing boards is to bring loads of volunteers to the mountains adjoining the coast to cut down many of the coniferous cedar trees (sugi) and replace them with leafy trees. In that way, as the new trees shed their leaves in autumn they will carry nutrients from the forest to the ocean, where the oysters feed. The cedar trees would be used for fuel.
So all hope is not lost but most importantly, our joint efforts and constant visits to the region serve to remind the people of Tohoku that they are not forgotten.
Gary S. Moriwaki
Report from Ramona Bajema, Country Representative AmeriCaresOn the very day you sent this essay from the New York Times, I was in Kesennuma watching junior high school soccer teams from Otsuchi, Kesennuma (2), and Rikuzentakata participate in a tournament. (I was there, because the event was part of a psychosocial program that we support with our partner, NICCO. NICCO staff and nurses were serving delicious curry to the players, coaches, and their families made by a local chef. They use these events as a way to monitor participants overall physical and emotional health.)
The players loved it – and it was particularly successful when they mixed up players on the different teams. Shy at first, you soon saw a camaraderie between these boys that was truly heart-warming. All of them come from some of the hardest-hit locations in the disaster.
Sports are so important in a time like this. As this essay you sent reminds us, physical exertion acts as a form of release. Teammates remind each other that each individual is an important part of the team. It also is such a good reminder to know that everyone in these prefectures was affected by the disaster; even though Kitakami wasn’t hit by the tsunami, its residents were “hit” by its effects. I wish I could have many of the people I meet write essays about their experiences!
It was a wonderful autumn day watching these young men play their hearts out…I felt lucky to be there. And even luckier now that I have read this essay!
My best to you and to all,
Report from Eiich KuwanaI hope that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving Week.
Mother Nature seems quite angry, and my thoughts and prayers go out to all of those who have suffered enormously from Hurricane Sandy. Sandy reminds us of the destructive powers of nature, and even 20 months after the earthquake and tsunami hit Eastern Japan, lives of many have still yet to return to normal. I spent a recent Saturday in Fukushima City, which is located roughly 60 kilometers (a little less than 40 miles) from the crippled nuclear facility. The prevailing wind on March 15, 2011, when the explosion at Daiichi Nuclear facility took place, carried radioactive particles up towards the city of Fukushima, which has a population of roughly 290,000.
It must certainly be odd to be living in the midst of “radioactivity measuring stations”, one of which is depicted in an attached photograph. Citizens visit these stations to scan their bodies and food for radioactivity. To measure the amount of radiation in one’s body, a person sits for ten to fifteen minutes on what looks like a pretty non-descript chair surrounded by lead-paneled walls (please see attached photo). The chair costs in excess of $75,000, so there are not many of these around, even in Fukushima. Moreover, since most radiation is soaked by a body through intake of radioactive crop, Fukushima residents bring in food grown locally to measure radioactive particles. Apparently, people who measure the highest level of in-body radiation are farmers who unknowingly eat rice and vegetable that are severely contaminated by radiation that fell on their farmland in March, 2011. Workers at these radioactivity measuring stations spend ample time educating people on how to avoid contaminated food.
These privately sponsored measuring stations have become necessary, partly due to Fukushima residents’ mistrust of government officials. This lack of trust manifested itself in a seminar that I attended which dealt with thyroid cancer. The seminar was for local citizens and led by a professor from a local public university (hence, employed by the government). The bottom line of his presentation: even if contracted, thyroid cancer has the highest 5 year survival rate among major cancer diagnosis. During the Q&A session that followed (please see photo above), folks attending the seminar lambasted the poor professor with contradicting facts on thyroid cancer, especially with regard to children.
Caught in between, unfortunately, are children of Fukushima. According to a recent survey of 4 to 5 year olds in the area, the average weight gain for the year ending in June was 1.29 pounds, as opposed to 4.96 pounds during the same period in previous years. The main reason cited for this is due to children not being able to play outdoors from fear of coming into contact with radioactive weeds and ground. As a result, the children lack in physical activity that is critical for growth. We are currently in discussion with a number of non-profit organizations that transport children to radioactive-free areas far removed from Fukushima for a weekend or longer, so that kids can run freely outdoors, unencumbered by fear of radiation. Your continued support will help fund this and other initiatives to help victims of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.
I have created a website that chronicles the trips that I have taken to date to the Tohoku area. Please take a look when you have a moment to spare.
Report from JAA News 9/10/2012
JAA Japan Disaster Relief Fund
Report from President Gary S. Moriwaki
On September 16 we spent a day in Miyagi prefecture. We arrived in Sendai early in the morning via the Shinkansen and then traveled by bus one hour east to Ishinomaki. As noted in an earlier report, Sendai is still experiencing an economic boom, with people shopping, restaurants bustling and the population going about its business. However, Ishinomaki and a neighboring town, Onagawa, still appear pretty devastated. While there, we met with representatives of Peace Boat, whom we have supported in the past, and the local staff of Americares, which is based in Stamford, Connecticut. On March 10, 2011, Ishinomaki had a population of 150,000. Now there are 120,000 and 1,000 are leaving every month. Onagawa had 12,500 people; now there are less than 7,500 and the main employer, a nuclear power plant, has been shut down since spring 2011. Unless economic revitalization happens quickly, many of these coastal towns will be hollowed out and become ghost towns.
In Tokyo we met with our friends from JEN/Japan Platform and Beyond Tomorrow. While all of the NGO representatives expressed frustration at the slow pace of progress, they remained hopeful for a revitalization of the area. At JAA we continue to work with our partners on the ground and continue to meet with other NGOs who have sustainable programs that can be leveraged and scaled to make the greatest possible impact in Tohoku. To this end, on October 1 under the auspices of Morgan Stanley and MUFG, we held the JAA Inaugural Japan Rising Golf Tournament. The $200,000 that we netted with the help of numerous corporate and individual sponsors will go towards the recovery efforts in Tohoku. Together with our colleagues at the Consul General, Japan Society, JMSA, Americares, the US Japan Council, JA Lions Club, JCCI, Nippon Club, JAJA, JACL, and many other organizations, we want to let our friends and family in Tohoku know that they are not forgotten.
Report from Mr. Yusuke Iwasaki, JAA Vice President
Report from JAA News 7/8/2012
Tohoku students at Dinosaur BBQ
JAA Japanese Disaster Relief FundAs reported earlier, Past President Susan Onuma, Mr. Kuwana and President Gary Moriwaki recently visited Tohoku. While Sendai, the largest city in Miyagi prefecture, is experiencing an economic "bubble," the second largest city, Ishinomaki, looks essentially unchanged since the early days of the disaster. The same can be said of Rikuzentakata and other coastal towns such as Ofunato and Onagawa. In the past JAA has funded organizations such as JOICFP and Peace Boat and we have received periodic reports on their progress. (The reports are available at the JAA office and on line.) These organizations have done a tremendous job in tending to the needs of children, young mothers and the elderly on a day to day basis.
More recently JAA has allocated additional funding for the Kizuna Foundation and is considering proposals from Beyond Tomorrow. We will also coordinate funding to assist with mental health issues in the Tohoku region. Eighteen months after the terrible events of March 11, our focus is on revitalizing the economy and on supporting forward looking organizations that concentrate on education and developing leadership. Through the efforts of Satoshi Kitahama and his colleagues, the Kizuna Foundation is encouraging those involved in the fishing industry to develop new, sustainable ways of fishing that can be scaled to encompass larger groups of fishing associations. Kizuna Foundation is also involved in rebuilding sports fields, including a baseball field in Ofunato where the local team is known as the Red Sox. Our good friend, Bobby Valentine, has been very supportive in this effort. Our aim is to support those who are working hard to reestablish themselves.
Beyond Tomorrow, which was created in June 2011, aims to support young victims via leadership training and scholarship programs. JAA is working with the US Japan Council to provide funding for scholarships to young people wishing to study abroad, both at the high school and college levels. On August 15, several board members and other community leaders hosted a dinner for 10 students sponsored by Beyond Tomorrow at Dinosaur BBQ. The students were visiting various US cities, including New Orleans, Boston, Washington, D.C. and New York. We were very impressed with the work they are doing with the young students of Tohoku and plan to stay in touch with this organization to better understand their needs and how JAA can help them most effectively.
Going forward, with funding raised by the Inaugural, JAA Japan Rising Golf Tournament underwritten by Morgan Stanley and MUFG, we will keep up our efforts in the months and years to come.
This is website of this golf tournament.
Report of JAA Japan Disaster Relief from JAA News 5/6/2012
JAA will hold its Inaugural JAA Japan Rising Golf Tournament
sponsored by the partnership of Morgan Stanley and MUFG(Mitsubishi
UFJ Financial Group) on October 1, 2012 at the Montclair Country
Report with photos from Mr. Eiich Kuwana on May 31, 2012A colleague and I recently spent a day up in the Tohoku region, visiting Rikuzentakada, Ofunato (Koishihama), and Sendai. In contrast to my previous visit to the same area in February, the weather cooperated, and with no snow impeding our vision like the last time, we were able to see more clearly the progress to date and the work that still needs to get done. Here are some observations from the trip:
Photos of "Rubble" and "Cleared but no activity"
of "Fishermen" with Mr. Kuwana at Koishihama.
Due to the good work of the Kizuna Foundation, the local government fast tracked the raising of the pier, which means that the multi-generations of fishermen living there can now rebuild their value-added scallop farming business. The village elders, who are still vibrant fishermen, greeted Satoshi Kitahama, Director of the Kizuna Foundation and me and regaled us with heartwarming stories of how there is optimism now that they are able to be self-sufficient. The fishermen told us that nutrients in the ocean had revitalized, so that scallops were growing much faster now.
Report from Mr. Eiichi Kuwana
In the midst of a rare snowstorm for the eastern Tohoku region on February 26, a group representing the Japanese American Association of New York visited Rikuzentakada and Ofunato, two coastal areas that were hit hard by the earthquake and tsunami on March 11 of last year. Since nearly a year has passed from the tragic day, our goal was to survey the progress the area has made, especially in the realm of economic recovery. While physical devastation remain abundantly clear (see photo 1 of an abandoned apartment building in the middle of Rikuzentakada; the tsunami came up the fourth floor of the building as evidenced by the balcony panels still in place on the fifth floor but not on the lower floors. Photo 2 depicts an area that was once the center of Rikuzentakada, a city of 25,000 people; the photo shows only debris rubbles and vast empty space), we were encouraged by the entrepreneurial spirit of a fishing village working closely with a non-profit organization headed by a former investment banker to rebuild jobs and income.
Even prior to the March disaster, the fishing village, Koishihama, had built a reputation as being innovative, embracing sustainable fishing by cultivating a cutting-edge scallop farm and raising tasty, plump products. As such, they have been able to differentiate and charge higher prices for their product through branding and establishing their own, distinct end-user customers. Moreover, unlike many other fishing villages in the area that have older, challenging demographics, Koishihama has a vibrant group of young fishermen, average age 36, that is working closely with its elders and leading the charge into 21st century fishery (photo 3 shows a picture of us with one of the younger generation leaders wearing a silver colored outfit).
Unfortunately, the earthquake dropped the Koishihama pier by eighty centimeters (roughly 30 inches) so that during high tides, water now runs up the dock (photo 4 is of the wharf), rendering it useless for docking purposes. Moreover, the tsunami wiped out the scallop farm, 90% of the fishing boats, and a processing building on the pier. We are holding conversations with the village and the NPO to seek ways we can assist in rebuilding the infrastructure so that village can start harvesting scallops by the fall of 2012.
Since this entire region was on a secular decline prior to March 11, we believe that new investment should not be geared towards recreating the world as it was on March 10. Rather, we will yield a much better return on investment by focusing attention on business practices led by a younger generation that have a vested interest in ensuring a virile economy in the area over the next several decades. Our hope is that if we can assist in revitalizing Koishihama and its innovative way of sustainable fishing, other villages will derive inspiration and seek to emulate Koishihama. By managing towards such an outcome, our investment will have a multiplier effect on the economy in the region.
As always, we appreciate and are humbled by your continued support.
With gratitude,Eiich KuwanaHelp Save Japan: www.jaany.org
--- One Year after Japan Disaster ---
In response to the disasters in Japan, the Japanese American Association of New York has been facilitating and assisting relief efforts in collaboration with numerous NPOs and other organizations in NYC and the surrounding area. In 2012, one year after the disaster, many events were held in NYC. Honorary President Susan Onuma visited Tohoku as a member of this year's Japanese American Leadership Delegation sponsored by Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in March and stayed on through the one year anniversary event. On March 12 she attended a reception given by Foreign Minister Gemba where she also had a chance to catch up with former Ambassador Nishimiya. While she was disappointed to see that many areas still had much work to be done due to extensive physical damage, she was heartened to learn that many young people were eager to get involved in Japan's recovery effort, as volunteers or young entrepreneurs. The overwhelming support and interest from foreign countries has also sparked a renewed interest among Tohoku students and young professionals to study abroad and/or enter fields where they can help others and also prevent future disasters. She met many such young students at the benefit dinner for the NPO "Beyond Tomorrow".
March 10 - TOGETHER FOR 3.11 First Anniversary Memorial was held with 1100 people attending at Christian Science Church in Manhattan. The memorial started with opening remarks by Ambassador Hiroki followed by message from Tohoku residents, and reports by Dr. Kamal (JAA Director) who went to Japan to help and support medical needs and Mr. Motoatsu Sakurai, President of the Japan Society where a one day open house was held on 3/11 "One Year Later".
March 11 - Six prefectures in Tohoku held Memorial and Japanese American Lions Club held memorial events.
March 18 - A special fund raising concert "Heart for Japan" was held at JAA Hall. This was organized by 16-year old high school student and pianist, Mr. Ryo Kono, who heard about Tohoku's disaster from his brother who worked in Fukushima. Soprano Sherry Zannoth, Violinist Steven Zynszajn and Pianist Steven Graff joined this concert. The concert was both excellent and uplifting and raised $1,500 for JAA Japan Disaster Relief Fund.
One American boy, King High School student CMera made his presentation of Tohoku at his school. It was quite an impressive presentation. Please see it at http://youtu.be/SdpqFtjutbo
March 28 - JAA had a warm welcome reception for ten high school students visiting the New York area from Tohoku Most of the students had lost family members and friends from the 3/11 disaster and made presentations and talked about their experiences. They were invited by the Northeast Council of Teachers of Japan /NECT (president, Mr. Kazuo Tsuda) for exchange program to meet American students and people in the U.S. Those attending the reception were quite moved (and impressed with the studentsN" English speaking ability).
Among some of the 3/11 Anniversary events held:
2011 JAA Japan Disaster Relief Fund Report (hide/show)
JAA Japan Disaster Relief Fund Report from President Gary S. Moriwaki
On November 28th and 29th we visited Tohoku again. We attended a fundraiser with Bobby Valentine one evening to raise funds for Tohoku area kids to enable them to have a travel abroad respite. The next day we accompanied him to Sendai, where we visited with officials of Tohoku Daigaku Hospital. Two on-the-ground Americares staff joined us, as well as physicians and officials from the hospital. We had an excellent exchange of ideas. During the first week of December, the Kuwanas and I met with Diet members, Peace Boat, ETIC, Henry Takata, Keiko Kiyama of Japanese Emergency NGOs (JEN) and Japan Platform. Of particular concern to many, aside from economic issues, was the mental and physical well being of the displaced elderly, young children and unemployed workers who are suffering from the effects of the triple disaster.
We are now thinking about how to coordinate our efforts to plan symposia, other awareness and fundraising events during and around the first anniversary, March 11th, 2012. Our work goes on. We will have a Committee Meeting of the JAA Japan Disaster Relief Fund on Dec. 22nd, 2011.
JAA Japan Disaster Relief
The people of Tohoku are still suffering from the combined tsunami, earthquake and nuclear plant disasters. To date, JAA has raised approximately $1 million in donations from individuals and corporations. Especially touching are the donations from school groups, including the Anime Club at Francis Lewis High School, which sold metal buttons that they had created with motifs from their favorite Anime scenes, in order to raise funds for students in the affected region. The group mentioned that they have learned valuable lifetime lessons through their efforts.
The JAA Committee on Japan Disaster Relief Fund held a meeting on August 15 and has decided to fund the following NGOs working in the Tohoku region:
- (1) $125,000.00 -Japanese Organization for International Cooperation in Family Planning (JOICFP) for women, pregnant women and babies residing in Tohoku region www.joicfp.or.jp
- (2) $125,000.00 -Peace Boat for support and relief of residents of Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture.Working with Church World Service, JAA is funding Peace Boat to facilitate relief and rebuilding efforts in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture. Church World Service will assist in overseeing Peace Boat's tremendous efforts and will provide updates on the progress of this well regarded Japanese NGO. www.peaceboat.org
- (3) $100,000.00 -NPO Jidai no Souzou Kobo for Civilian Relief & Recovery Support Team “Shintakujuku in Tohoku” to fund a series of weekend programs that provides Character and Leadership Education ans aspirational hope for children and their parents in the Tohoku region. www.jidai.or.jp
JAA has previously sent out $265,000 for support of Japan Disaster Relief- Fukushima Rescue Fund $100,000, Miyagiken (NY Miyagikenjinkai), $91,535.90, the Red Cross (NBC Dine Out Japan Relief) $60,000 and Kokkyounaki Ishidan $25,000.
In total, we have sent out $626,535.90 from JAA Japan Disaster Relief Fund.
We continue to perform our due diligence and are investigating NGOs in the Tohoku region that focus on the needs of elderly as well as mental health issues. Several JAA representatives including our president Mr. Gary S. Moriwaki will visit Tohoku in September and will report back to our members.
On July 6th, Dr. Chiyoshi Takano from Koriyama city in Fukushima visited JAA to receive a banner with the message “UNITY & HOPE”, which JAA members inscribed at recent Keirokai. Dr, Takano had worked and volunteered for many critically injured and depressed patients at Izumi Sonritsu Hospital and Kuwano Kyoritu Hospital, both of which sheltered victims of the Earthquake and Tsunami. She emphasized the need for the fund to rebuild damaged hospitals. The Unity & Hope project was made possible by the efforts of Ms. Pamela Sugihara and Ms. Aileen Yamaguchi.
On June 18 on a warm early summer evening, Bobby Valentine, who is a great friend of Japan and JAA, hosted "Stamford on the Sound," a food and wine extravaganza, with all proceeds going to the JAA Japan Disaster Relief fund. During that afternoon, Bobby hosted a softball tournament to raise additional funding. Over 1,100 supporters attended the evening event, including the actor Richard Gere, former Mets and Yankees pitcher David Cone, and Stamford Mayor Michael Pavia. A highly successful silent auction and online auction were also held. Roughly $600,000 was raised. Ambassador Shigeyuki Hiroki, Consul General of Japan in New York addressed the gathering and expressed his gratitude for the generous and heartfelt support of the people of Stamford and the corporate supporters. President Gary S. Moriwaki also gave remarks and spoke about JAA's relief efforts. JAA wishes to extend its gratitude and appreciation for the unbelievable contributions of Mr. Valentine, and to Mr. & Mrs. Eiichiro Kuwana for their tremendous hard work and support.
The Second Annual Japanese Heritage Night at Citifield, home of the New York Mets, was held June 21 to benefit Japan Relief Efforts. During the pre game ceremonies, Soh Daiko and Momo Suzukiﾕs dance troupe performed on the field, The Mets presented their Spirit Award to the people of the disaster stricken area. This was accepted by Ambassador Shigeyuki Hiroki and representatives of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures. A special video tribute to Wally Yonamine, who passed away recently, was screened during the game. Wally was the first Japanese American to play in the Japanese professional baseball leagues and is the only Japanese American to be enshrined in the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame. Wally was also the first JA to play professional football in the US, having been with the San Francisco 49ers. Ryan Yamamoto, Wallyﾕs grandson, acknowledged the tribute on behalf of the Yonamine family.
Report from President Gary S. Moriwaki:
On September 30, 2011, just about six months after the earthquake and tsunami disasters affected the Tohoku region of Japan, we had the opportunity to again visit Ishinomaki, accompanied by volunteers from Peace Boat and Church World Services. After presenting a ceremonial check for $125,000, we were able to visit a couple of the town's business districts, the Peace Boat center of operations, and the still devastated areas along the coast. The business districts were much improved since our last visit at the end of May. The streets were clean, free of sludge and debris, and newly repaved. Many stores had new signage and were open for business. However, many businesses were still boarded up, and even the ones that were open did not have many customers, other than the volunteers who worked in the area. The situation along the coast is still pretty bad. There were huge mountains of debris, some more than 100 feet high. One of those mountains had four levels, each level with its own bulldozer. Factories and homes were in disrepair; and many residents are living in temporary shelters. However, there were some signs of hope.
We visited Takahashi Tokuji Shoten, Inc., a fish processing plant founded in 1905. It is a very large plant with five very sophisticated fish processing machines that work at 196 C, using liquid nitrogen. Peace Boat volunteers began cleaning the 20 cm deep layer of sludge in the plant starting March 17, and have just finished cleaning the machinery, which now needs repair (at a cost of $2.5 million). The plant was literally under water, with sea water reaching up to the top of the four story building. The local residents were at first wary and skeptical of the volunteers, but through their hard work and engaging personalities, the volunteers were able to establish a bond of trust and ended up providing psycho social support as well. The volunteers eventually convinced the owner of the plant, Mr. Hideo Takahashi, to rebuild. At first he just wanted to walk away as the devastation was so great. While we were at the factory, we ran into Mr. Takahashi. He said that one machine was ready to go and that on Oct 1 they were having a re-opening ceremony that would put 20 people back to work. There were 75 workers pre 3/11. One of the workers is his second son, who left his job and girlfriend in Tokyo to rejoin his Dad. We watched as Takahashi, in tears, thanked the Peace Boat volunteers. So this story has it all: devastation and rebuilding, recognition and respect for local customs and concerns, revitalization on and hope, cooperation between private and civil sectors, financing and job creation.
In Tokyo, the situation seems pretty normal. Escalators are running, the streets and stores are fully lighted, and it is pretty much business as usual. While in Tokyo, we visited with a number of NGOs and NPOs. At JOICFP (Japanese Organization for International Cooperation in Family Planning), we had a ceremonial presenting of a check for $125,000. The major concerns of JOICFP as expressed by the managing director, Sumie Ishii, were: (1) JOICFP was having difficulty tracking down and reaching out to the population of women who are pregnant or have recently given birth who became dispersed since 3/11, (2) mental health issues,(3) radiation concerns and (4) upgrading their website.
At JSK (Jidaino Souzou Koubo), we met with Akizawasan, the founder, who received our ceremonial check. A new initiative was described, which is to send 50-100 kids from Tohoku to the USA for respite.
At ETIC (Entrepreneurial Training for Innovative Communities, www.etic.com), we had interesting discussions with their young leaders. They want to send interns and fellows to the Tohoku region for the purpose of incubating new businesses and to encourage young people to either return to Tohoku or to set up shop there.
Along these lines, we also had the occasion to meet with Henry Takata, who is on the Asian Board of All Hands, a US NPO based in Massachusetts with volunteers working on the ground in Tohoku. Going forward, their focus is also economic revitalization. Proposed projects include rebuilding a fishing port in Ofunato, financing fishing boats, and repairing fish processing plants.
Report from Mr. Eiichi Kuwana on 9/12/2011:
This past weekend not only marked the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks but also the six month period after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. I revisited the same locales that I went to in May to see first-hand what progress had been made over the past four months. At least on the surface, some progress is evident, with debris having been taken away to central locations in and around the devastated towns and cities. The Japanese news-paper Nikkei, reports however, that only a little more than 50% of the total debris has been removed, and the pace of the removal will slow down as available land to store and process the debris becomes more scarce in Japan.
To make this more clear, I have attached "before and after" photos of the same areas.
See website of Peace Boat below,
The now famous emergency headquarters of Minami- Sanriku is a shrine for the scores of municipal workers who were convening a meeting to deal with the earth- quake damage and were subsequently swept away to their death. The tented area for volunteer organized food offerings in May is now clear of most debris. However, the progress in the area is only skin deep.
I spent some time with elderly fishermen and their families in the Minami Sanriku area. When asked about their most urgent need, all of them were unanimous - jobs. Creating employment in this region is the only long-term viable solution to attain self-sustaining economic growth. This need is gender and age blind; it is a common thread for all who live in the area, many of whom are elderly, as in the attached photos, and have the energy and desire to remain productive members of society.
We will do our best in supporting NPO and NGO organizations that foster entrepreneurship and creation of jobs with the funds that many of you have generously donated.
Thank you for JAA's continued support and interest in helping the victims in Japan.
We are providing information on a new project called Genki Notes. This joint project organized by the U.S.-Japan Council, Emerson College and the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership aims to bring a moment of happiness to those affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. We are asking schools across America to write "Genki Notes," which are fun, colorful and creative letters to Japan. We would greatly appreciate it if you could pass along this opportunity to the educators in your network. Help bring Genki Notes into an elementary, middle or high school near you by downloading the informational flyer and step-by-step instructions. Please visit www.USJapanCouncil.org.