HELP: The Japan Earthquake

japan earthquake

Those affected by the earthquake in Japan

Edited on 3/18/11 to add the following:

There’s a new development, and thankfully so, as the disaster in Japan continues to worsen!

Now, more than ever, folks — Japan needs HELP.

Moving forward — you can visit KOKUAJAPAN to have the always generous Minami Tamaki LLP law firm match 50% of your donation to JCCCNC, the same organization mentioned below. Read the website for further details on the groups that have partnered up to make this donation match possible.

Why donate $100 when you can make it so that Japan receives $150 in aid through your donation?

Donate through kokuajapan.wordpress.org to have your donation matched.

Let’s band together and get as much assistance as possible to our neighbors in Japan!

(The original article follows below.)

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Last week, an enormous 9.0 earthquake triggered an even larger tsunami of up to 33 feet that — quite literally — wiped out coastal towns, and the people along with it.

This post is obviously not about food. It feels silly to even discuss food right now when one country is being demolished by Mother Nature right now. Food seems like a dumb topic to write about when you know the land beneath these people’s feet is literally giving way, and the water that surrounds this relatively small country has released an unstoppable and impressive fury, not to mention the looming threat of nuclear meltdowns that surround them at this moment when I am writing this post.

Those of us who live in the Bay Area are quite familiar with what earthquakes feel like. There’s nothing quite like it when the ground you stand on decides to move, especially when you can’t fly. And when you’ve been through a big one with the building swaying from side to side and the earth moving for you and everyone in your vicinity — it’s quite alarming. Trees can fall and fires happen, but the ground is not supposed to move. Instinctively, we know this.

And yet, it does. My imagination is not vivid enough to even imagine what an 9.0 must feel like. I can’t begin to imagine how Japan feels right now.

Back in 1994, I lived through a 6.8 earthquake that became known as the “Northridge Earthquake”. I was living in Los Angeles, and having been raised in New York, I had no idea what an earthquake was, or if I’d even recognize it if/when one happened.  I worried for naught as when a 6.8 hit in the middle of the night, there was no mistaking what this was — and let me tell you, it was not just the most frightening moment of my life, but also the most unnerving moment. Only 33 people died in that quake, though the area did experience a lot of damage; the quake in Japan is predicted to have a death toll that exceeds 10,000 — at least. While at the time of this writing, the official death toll is 2800+, entire towns are missing, and when bodies are found, they are being found by the thousands — not just a few at a time. (Update March 2014: death toll is close to 16,000 with over 2600 people still considered missing according to this report.)

Having the ground move beneath your feet hard enough to displace your country by 8 feet (imagine that — you’re standing in one place one second — and after the earthquake, you’re actually starting 8 feet away from where you were, without having moved an inch!), but the tsunami it generated, adding stunning insult to an already horrifying injury, was massive and absolutely devastating.

Japan Tsunami

The Tsunami took over entire towns and wiped out everything

You, like me, want to help.
But it’s not news that the massive amount of donations that were given to Haiti barely reached the Haitian people who needed it. With the exception of a few charities or nonprofit organizations, it’s hard to discern which charity you can give your time and money to and make sure it reaches the intended recipients.

Well, I know one organization that is directly connected to Japan, and one that will use your donations to aid the Japanese families that have been displaced, and contribute directly to the rescue efforts: The Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California.

Sure, it’s a local organization rather than a national or international one — but when I donate, I want to make sure each dime goes to its intended recipient. While my donation may not be in the millions or even thousands, the point is for each charity organization to get those funds to the people who need those funds!

japan earthquake tsunami

Japan needs help. Now.

I’m not Japanese, but I have an admiration for the Japanese people that is deeply rooted in my Korean blood — and that’s their ability, as a country, to unite and conquer with order, calm, and extraordinary discipline. Despite the devastation there, even after four days, we see no news of any mayhem or violence, despite the explosions, continued tsunami warnings, aftershocks greater than many earthquakes, and potential nuclear threats that are looming in the horizon. Stories like this one, you will never hear of in most other countries. Check it out.

They are out of food; they are out of water; their homes are gone; their cars have floated off to unknown destinations; their families and friends are missing; all communication is down. Still, the country’s people are following the government’s orders, bravely withstanding horrid conditions, and marching forward already.
This is not a country where only the civilians are left to fend for themselves as they were in Haiti, with no sign of any leadership or help; this is one where the country’s officials are out on the streets doing what they can, too. There are no reports of looting; there are no reports of increased crime or anything of that sort — and this, in my humble opinion, is the mentality that has kept Japan as one of the most powerful and advanced countries in the world.

In other words, your dollars in assisting the Japanese people get back on their feet WILL make a difference to this country.

japan earthquake

The disaster in Japan

japan tsunami

The tsunami rolling in at the coast of Japan

Just four days ago, the ground shook and split beneath a Japanese region, and an enormous wave rolled in and wiped out men, women, children and elderly folks, mercilessly. Today, with mandatory power outages, no shelter, food or water — the Japanese people calmly await for help.

Not all of us can go to Japan to help — but all of us can imagine how this must feel, and how hopeless it must feel. This can be happening across the ocean, but this is our world, and we’re in this together; this same tragedy, or worse, can happen to us.

japan earthquake

Utter devastation.

We have to help. The one thing we, as Americans, excel at – more so than any other country in the world – is coming together to help those less fortunate than us.

To donate directly to the JCCNC, please visit their Causes page to make a donation:  THE NORTHERN JAPAN EARTHQUAKE RELIEF FUND. They just wired over $30,000 to Japan to help in the relief efforts, and have committed to sending every donated cent over to Japan for aid — better than any national or international organization that is also working toward helping Japan.

Just a small fraction of what would normally be your dinner bill can help save the life of someone in Japan; skip one night of eating out and make a huge difference to another person in a faraway land who desperately needs your help.

Please spread the word, and let’s come together to make a difference.

It’s with our help and their tenacity that Japan will rebuild, and be able to put this natural disaster down as just part of their history.

Grace Keh About Grace Keh
Grace Keh is the author of "Food Lovers' Guide to San Francisco" and the critic, editor and photographer behind San Francisco Food. In her regular day job, she consults for corporate clients in marketing and event strategy. Once the sun sets, she's on the hunt for great food in what she considers to be one of the world's greatest cities, San Francisco.

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