OLYMPIA - About 30 people stood in the cold and rain Wednesday afternoon at Percival Landing to show support for Japan and encourage people to give money to relief efforts for the country beset by an earthquake, a tsunami and a nuclear crisis.
“By giving and giving now, they will save lives,” said Reiko Callner, former president of the Olympia Japanese American Citizens League, which sponsored the event, along with the Olympia-Yashiro Sister City Association.
Callner, as many of the people at the gathering, has ties to Japan. Her brother and his family live in Nagano prefecture, about 100 miles from the unfolding crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant. Though they’re in the mountains away from the tsunami damage, they endured the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and continuing aftershocks.
“They’re nervous,” she said. “They were shaken very long and hard. Food is scarce in the grocery stores. Gas is being rationed.”
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Masami Hutchins, a board member of the citizens league, mentioned that people in the stricken region don’t have television or radio to get information. Her family lives in the south of the country, which was much less affected, but the worries remain.
“We just want to do everything we can do from here,” said Aki Suzuki, a teacher at South Puget Sound Community College. “At this point, we can only send money.”
Lisa Foster, a second-generation Japanese-American, has been trying to raise money as the president of the school’s Tomodachi Club. Her grandmother and other relatives live in northeast Japan, away from the tsunami but stricken by the earthquake.
“I’m here today because I want my community to know that some city of Olympia (residents) have family over there,” she said. “I want them to put themselves in our shoes and just show kindness.”
Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869 firstname.lastname@example.org