By RYOKO NAKAMURA
RAFU JAPANESE STAFF WRITER
Craig Iwamoto, a West Los Angeles native and a yonsei, has been working hard to collect relief supplies in Tokyo for the earthquake and tsunami victims. From his personal experiences, such as the Northridge earthquake and the Los Angeles Riots, he knew what he had to do—“Help people.”
Three years ago, Iwamoto moved to Japan, which he now calls home. He received his first Japan trip from his parents, Hank and Joy Iwamoto, as a high school graduation gift. He immediately fell in love with the people and culture. “People treat each other with respect here. It is a very civilized country,” Iwamoto said.
He is currently working as a music producer and songwriter in Tokyo under the name of Joe Iron.
About 10 days after the biggest natural disaster in Japanese history occurred, one of the artists in Iwamoto’s talent agency received a call from a colleague who had become a victim in Iwaki, Fukushima prefecture, where over 240 lives were lost.
He described the tough situation in Iwaki. Even after 10 days, there are no relief supplies, and no charities have arrived, partly due to the radiation scare. People were running out of food and water. They all were forced to fend for themselves.
After hearing about the devastating situation, Iwamoto and his friends decided to take action immediately. His friend in Iwaki suggested serving curry to the people at a school that is now an evacuation center for about 100 to 150 people.
“To say I wasn’t concerned about the radiation would be a lie, but in times like this, it would be selfish to only think of my personal well-being,” Iwamoto said.
Since the disaster, many of the foreigners who had lived in Japan have left the country, but Iwamoto is committed to helping people in Japan. “I’ve never been a person who runs away from adversity,” he said.
In addition to cooking curry, Iwamoto and his friends will take water, clothes, snacks, batteries, books, and toys. His family and friends in Los Angeles and San Francisco also helped raise funds for those supplies.
Iwamoto will share his experience in Iwaki when he returns to Tokyo on March 31.