Victoria reaches out to Japan

Major fundraiser planned by Japanese community

Victoria’s various Japanese organizations are coming together to host a fundraiser for Japan, after the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami devastated the country Friday.

“We’re trying to work altogether … so we have more synergy and everyone’s really on board,” said Mike Abe, president of the Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society. 

The date and venue have yet to be secured, but the theme is set.

“We’ll have ongoing Japanese entertainment throughout the day and encourage people to come down, watch and make donations,” Abe said. 

The Japanese Cultural Society, Japanese Victoria Heritage Language School and the Victoria-Morioka Friendship Society will all take part. 

Bill McCreadie of the Victoria-Morioka Friendship Society said our sister city  has survived.

“We had difficulty reaching people until Saturday night,” he said. “The earthquake was very severe. There was lots of shaking (but) not a lot of structural damage.”

McCreadie said he’s heard of no fatalities, but aftershocks of magnitudes above 6.0 continue. 

“They’re not being able to get their lives back to normal again,” McCreadie said. 

Morioka is north of Sendai, the hardest hit area. It is approximately 75 kilometres off the east coast, and not affected by the tsunami, according to McCreadie’s contacts.

Other relief efforts and fundraisers are taking shape.

To help those with family and friends in Japan, Shaw Cable is providing Japan TV free of charge to all Victoria customers. Uminara Taiko, a Japanese drumming group, is offering a workshop March 19. (For details, email jacob@uminaritaiko.com.) The Geisha Tapas Bar at 542 Herald St. is holding a fundraiser March 20.

The Canadian military is also poised and ready to help, if requested.

“Canada has put a range of capabilities at Japan’s disposal, including a 17-member Disaster Victim Identification team,” announced Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, in a press release Sunday. 

“In addition, we are offering chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear  technical expertise and equipment, Canadian Forces assets – including strategic airlift and personnel – to facilitate humanitarian relief efforts, Government of Canada relief stocks, and emergency medical and engineering capabilities,” added Cannon. 

By press time, the Japanese government had not accepted Canada’s offer, but military units are engaged in “prudent planning,” to be ready if the call comes. 

rholmen@vicnews.com