How to Help Japan: a Message from the Terasaki Center Director

Professor Hitoshi Abe, who was born and raised in Sendai, and Terasaki Center staff members have prepared a list of organizations that they believe can be most effective in getting aid from overseas to the people most affected by Japan's unprecedented crisis.

Jump to list of aid organizations

Dear Friends of Japan,

As multiple news reports are showing, Japan today is facing an unprecedented crisis. The images coming from Japan convey unbearable scenes of a horrible calamity, as well as the bravery and composure of the Japanese.

Sendai, the city at the center of the stricken area, is my hometown where I was born and raised. My parents as well as many relatives and friends live in this beautiful city. Sendai is a university town filled with students and is referred to as the forest city because of its abundance of greenery. Along the coast one finds Matsushima, one of the three famous beautiful places of Japan, and many other ancient Japanese landscapes stretching up to Aomori in the north and Ibaraki in the south. The agricultural and fishing industries of resource-rich northeastern Japan have been pillars of the superb food culture enjoyed in Japan and around the world. The numerous festivals celebrated in the region, including Sendai's Tanabata, Kesennuma's Tenbata Festival, and Ishinomaki's Kawabiraki add color to the scenery of the seasons, while deepening the bonds of the people who belong to communities large and small.

All of this has been lost, or heavily damaged, in the recent disaster. The countless beautiful landscapes by the sea that I, along with many others, enjoyed since childhood exist no more. There will probably be no festivals celebrating communities for some time. Some of the communities themselves have been wiped away by the tsunami. The blow to agriculture and fishing will be enormous. Universities have evacuated many of their students from the stricken areas and have suspended operations. The damaged buildings of the university where I studied cannot be entered. Many are still searching for family and friends. The scope of what has been lost, what will be lost, is immeasurable.

Along with shock, I am filled with admiration at the way in which the victims of this tragedy are facing such extraordinary circumstances. They are trying to get through this difficult time by helping one another without causing any further chaos. With great patience and without conflict they wait in long lines for 2 liters of gasoline, while enduring 4-hour lines to receive food rations. They offer to share the limited food they have with others, while helping those who have missing family members. We must offer our support to these people who are standing up to this most difficult circumstance with such dignity and determination.

Below, I append information that we have gathered on various groups providing aid. This is a list of organizations that we believe can be most effective in getting aid from overseas directly to the people. Please decide what kind of support you are able to offer. I hope from the bottom of my heart that as many people as possible will extend a helping hand to the victims of this calamity and will continue to keep them in their hearts as time goes on. Please circulate this message as widely as possible among your friends.


Hitoshi Abe
Director, Paul I. and Hisako Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies, UCLA
(Translated by Seiji Lippit, Associate Director)

After much research and consideration, we recommend the following groups due to their presence in Japan and their ability to bring relief to the victims directly. Groups have been categorized by their mission goals and include local government, general relief (humanitarian aid), medical aid, and children's needs. These groups have teams positioned to aid affected areas. 

Local government

Funds donated directly to these heavily affected northeastern prefectures will be used to aid victims and begin reconstruction efforts. These sites are primarily in Japanese and accept donations only by bank transfer (no credit cards).

Miyagi Prefecture  - Japanese only

Separate funds have been created to help victims of the disaster and to support reconstruction efforts.  

Iwate Prefecture – Japanese Only

To donate, please view instructions here.  

Fukushima Prefecture (English)

The website is also available in Japanese, Chinese and Korean. See the donation instructions in English and Japanese.

Ibaraki Prefecture – As of March 18, 2011, Ibaraki Prefecture has no emergency fund in place.

General Relief

Japanese Red Cross - 日本赤十字社 [東北関東大震災義捐金]

Japanese Red Cross teams are already in the field helping those in need. A Japanese-language update on their activities may be viewed here.

The Japanese donation page  and English donation page accepts credit card.

Peace Winds Japan

Peace Winds, whose response to the disaster was immediate, is cooperating with other organizations to provide shelters and emergency supplies in the hard-hit Kesennuma area. Find out more about their activities here.

Donate by check or credit card.

Salvation Army

Salvation Army teams in Sendai and Mito are distributing meals and supplies to evacuees. For more information, please check the activity blog.

Donate by credit card online, by phone at 1-800-SAL-ARMY; or text "JAPAN" or "QUAKE" to 80888 to make a $10 donation. (You must respond "YES" to a confirmation thank-you message.)

Convoy of Hope

Convoy of Hope reports shipping 50,000 meals from the Philippines to Japan. Supplies are being sent to partners in Japan to be distributed to evacuation shelters and national churches. Source.

Donate to its Japan Disaster Relief fund online. Accepts credit card.

Medical Aid

The elderly in particular are struggling due to illnesses that require constant care. 


"AmeriCares and its relief workers in Japan are working to deliver medicines and supplies to hospitals, shelters and health responders to treat and care for survivors." Source.

Donate to their Japan online. Accepts credit card.  

International Medical Corps

"International Medical Corps' emergency response team is assessing the post-disaster needs of isolated coastal villages north of Sendai that have yet to receive humanitarian assistance. They found acute shortages of food, water and some medicines, and survivors in need of mental health support." Source.

Donate to the emergency response fund online or text MED to 80888 for a one-time $10 donation.

Children's Needs

An estimated 100,000 children have been displaced from their homes. The following groups focus on seeing to the needs of these children and their caretakers.

Save the Children

"Save the Children teams are in Sendai to help children affected by the earthquake and tsunami, and are in the process of setting up child-friendly spaces. These are protective play areas that help relieve the anxiety faced by children and allow them to spend time with other children and play while being supervised by responsible adults. The play areas also give parents much needed time that they can dedicate to finding food sources, work, accommodation and locating other friends and family." Source.

Donate to the Children's Emergency Fund online. Accepts credit card.

World Vision Japan (Japanese site) and World Vision USA (English)

"Blankets, bottled water, and sanitary and hygiene supplies are among the items in World Vision's distribution to assist more than 6,000 people in urgent need in Minami Sanriku, where 9,600 townspeople have been displaced into 40 shelters." Source. News may be found in Japanese here.

Donate online through the World Vision Japan (Japanese) or World Vision (English) website. Accepts credit card.


Published: Friday, March 18, 2011