SEATTLE — A special memorial service to express sorrow and condolences to the victims of the Tohoku Pacific Ocean Earthquake was held on March 19.
The event was organized by SeattleJapanRelief. Lori Matsukawa, KING-TV news anchor, emceed the ceremony held at the Kobe Bell in the Seattle Center. About 400 people attended, including Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, Seattle Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith, and Consul General Kiyokazu Ota.
In his remarks at the ceremony, Ota said, “Today, I would like to express condolences for the more than 10,000 people who lost their lives or are missing, and also for their families and friends. There are no words in English or in Japanese to express our sorrow.” He also expressed his appreciation to the organizers as well as his determination for the recovery efforts.
“We have received many messages of sympathy from Seattleites, Washingtonians and Americans. Your kindness is very touching and is very much appreciated…. Japan is more united than ever in the spirit of helping each other and maintaining orderly conduct. It will take years and a lot of energy to rebuild the disaster-stricken region, but I believe we will overcome this challenge.”
Gregoire, on behalf of 6.7 million Washingtonians, expressed her deep sympathy and heartfelt condolences to the victims. She said that “our futures are interconnected” and “their sorrows and sufferings are also ours.” She also informed the audience that $7 million in cash and in-kind assistance had been raised by individuals and companies statewide, and asked other Washingtonians to join them in helping out the victims.
McDermott shared his personal relationship with Japan and his fellow legislators in the Japanese Diet over the past 20 years. While the Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake, which devastated Kobe in 1995, left a strong impression in peoples’ minds, the Tohoku Pacific Ocean Earthquake was much bigger and it will take many more years to recover, he said. He also reminded everyone that people tend to forget an event once media outlets stop reporting. “We should never forget those who are suffering,” he said, and it is important “to stand with them for many years to come as we work together toward recovery.”
The ceremony concluded with a prayer by Rev. Taijo Imanaka of Seattle Koyasan Buddhist Temple. The VIPs and other participants followed him in ceremonial bell-ringing.
There was a table for writing messages to Japan, and booths were set up by the American Red Cross, Peace Winds America and YMCA for cash donations.
On March 24, the Consulate General of Japan in Seattle asked that those wishing to help through financial donation consider giving to the following organizations:
• The Japanese Red Cross Society (http://www.jrc.or.jp/english/) is accepting and processing monetary donations, which will be sent to the Donation Allotment Committee established by the affected local governments. If you need a receipt, specify it in the note section on the remittance form. Consult your bank for more information regarding their policies and fees for international wire transfers.
Name of Bank: Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation
Name of Branch: Ginza
Account Number: 8047670 (Ordinary Account)
SWIFT Code: SMBC JP JT
Payee Name: The Japanese Red Cross Society
Payee Address: 1-1-3 Shiba-Daimon Minato-ku, Tokyo JAPAN
You may also make your donation to the Japanese Red Cross Society via the American Red Cross — Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami (http://american.redcross.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ntld_main). Your donation will be distributed to those living in the affected areas or will be used by the Japanese Red Cross Society for its relief efforts.
• SeattleJapanRelief (http://seattlejapanrelief.com/) is a collaboration of Japanese American and Japan-related cultural, educational, and civic organizations standing together to promote relief and recovery following the devastating earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan. They are committed to mobilizing funds quickly in support of immediate relief efforts. They are also steadfast in their resolve to remain involved with long-term recovery efforts.
(Source: Consulate General of Japan in Seattle,http://www.seattle.us.emb-japan.go.jp/)