As I walked by Union Square in New York City on Sunday, I couldn’t help but hear the chants of “Nippon! Nippon!” and “Help Save Japan!” Upon closer inspection, I found a group of Japanese children, with handmade signs. They were raising money for the Japan Earthquake/Tsunami Disaster Relief Fund Drive [Lions Club]. They had decorated cardboard boxes that reminded me of making dioramas in elementary school. Except these were not for a science project, these were to collect coins and dollars to send to Japan to help the country after its recent disaster. What an amazing sight.
In fact, since March 11, there have been no less than 658 earthquakes along the coast of Japan. According to the Associated Press, the current estimate is that in Japan more than 8,800 people have died as a result of the earthquake and tsunami, with another 12,600 listed as missing. That figure is expected to rise.
The largest earthquake to hit the Tōhoku region [March 11] is now categorized as magnitude 9.0, the fourth largest quake since 1900. While the devastation was mitigated by the expert earthquake preparedness and infrastructure in Japan, it was hard to prepare for the ensuing tsunami. The 2004 earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean killed an estimated 230,000 people – Japan’s loss is only a fraction of that – but equally as significant and tragic for the victims and their families.
The March 11 earthquake also came on the heels of 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand in February, a 6.2 magnitude quake in northern Chile a few days ago, and the devastating 8.8 magnitude quake that hit Chile in 2010. The Pacific plate and it’s neighbors are restless.
As I re-entered reality after daydreaming and speculating whether these earthquakes were a result of the pacific plate settling due to the warming of the planet, a little Japanese boy approached me.
“Hello Sir” he said. “Japan is sick…can you help?” It was the way I would expect a child to understand it – and quite appropriate and impactful. That was followed by his friends, each with one of five letters that spelled “Japan” – chanting, as if they were supporting a sports team, “J-A-P-A-N – Japan! Help save Japan!”
As I put some money into their handmade collection box, I noticed the last sign, “S.O.S: Let’s Keep The Sun Rising.” Help save Japan.