Sister Cities International Responds to Crisis in Japan


Following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, many of Sister City International’s programs launched into action to provide support for their affected partner communities. The following roundup is from

Riverside, Calif. – Sendai

The Riverside-Sendai sister city partnership is one of the oldest in the U.S., dating back to 1957. The two cities have organized countless exchanges since then and Riverside immediately organized a robust relief effort for Sendai, the epicenter of the earthquake and one of the most severely affected Japanese cities. The California city has already raised nearly $263,754 that will go directly to Sendai in its time of need. Donations can be made online, by check, or in cash. To support the Sendai relief effort and find appropriate mailing addresses for donations, go to

Anaheim, Calif. – Mito

Danielle Vargas, student ambassador, is leading a campaign to collect 1,000 letters of kindness to show support for the Japanese people after participating in a cultural exchange program in Anaheim’s sister city in Japan. She wanted to provide an option for people in Anaheim who could not make financial donations. If you want to write a letter of support, click here for the Anaheim Sister City Commission:

Boulder, Colo. – Yamagata

Yoko Tamaki-Brandt, a member of the Boulder-Yamagata City Friendship Committee, has been coordinating an effort to send money to Yamagata’s sister-city program. The money will go towards supplies to be delivered by truck to Yamagata, a relatively isolated city. For more information on this relief effort, visit To help the residents of Yamagata, e-mail [email protected].

Chicago – Osaka

Chicago Sister Cities International held a fundraiser to benefit the American Red Cross Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Disaster Relief Fund on Friday, April 1. Mayor Richard Daley served as the honorary chair and made opening remarks at the event. The fundraiser featured a night of music by well-known Chicago musicians and was free and open to the public. Attendees were encouraged to make donations to the American Red Cross. For more details about the event, go to

Culver City, Calif. – Kaizuka

Culver City also has been the source of multiple relief efforts despite the fact that its sister city of Kaizuka was not affected by the earthquake. Operation USA, a Culver City-based relief organization, began collecting bulk donations from corporate donors, including medical supplies, tents, and generators, among other necessities. In addition, the Culver City Sister City Committee is in the process of developing a plan to direct donations to Kaizuka, which will then be distributed to affected areas. Those interested in donating to Operation USA can do so at, can text $10 to 50555 with the message “rebuild” or can send a check. To find more information about Culver City’s relief efforts, go to

Cupertino, Calif. – Toyokawa

Cupertino and Toyokawa have been sister cities for more than 30 years. The Cupertino-Toyokawa Sister City Committee recently began collecting funds for Japan earthquake and tsunami relief to send via Toyokawa. After 9/11, Toyokawa responded by donating funds to U.S. relief efforts. The committee will likely send other items to symbolize support for its sister city, such as hand-crafted origami.

Denver, Colo. – Takayama

The Denver-Takayama Sister City Committee is now accepting donations for its Japanese relief effort. Donations can be sent to the Denver Sister City office, made over the phone by calling (303) 832-1336, or online by going to

Des Moines, Iowa – Kofu

Des Moines, Iowa recently celebrated its 50th anniversary with Kofu and is leading fundraising efforts to send aid to Kofu as soon as possible.

Duluth, Minn. – Isumi-shi

Duluth Sister Cities has taken the lead in coordinating local relief efforts. The group is planning a benefit concert in the upcoming weeks to raise money for Isumi-shi. The Minnesotan city has also identified the need for moral and emotional support and is having students at area schools create cards and draw pictures to be sent to counterparts in Japan.

Evansville, Ind.- Tochigi City

The City of Evansville has had an official sister city relationship with Tochigi City since July 1999. Evansville is aiding its sister city with an earthquake relief fund. The mayor of Evansville, Jonathan Weinzapfel, and Old National Bank have set up a special fund account to donate food, water and blankets to the people of Tochigi City, where fear of radiation poisoning and food shortages are two current concerns. Evansville residents may donate by visiting any Old National Bank.

Fort Worth, Texas – Nagaoka

Fort Worth Sister Cities International set up the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund to collect donations that will be sent to Nagaoka. Fort Worth is involved in discussions with Nagaoka to establish the most effective way to contribute to affected areas. Those wishing to donate to the fund can send a check or donate online at Fort Worth, Nagaoka and Trier, Germany have a trilateral sister-city relationship. Nagaoka was not damaged by the earthquake or tsunami, but the city is providing 14,000 disaster victims with shelter and other necessities. Trier is also collecting money and organizing benefit concerts for Nagaoka that will be sent to the Japan Red Cross.

Gardena, Calif. – Ichikawa

Gardena has set up a relief fund with its sister city, Ichikawa, for those areas where donations are most needed. Learn how to donate here:

Grand Rapids, Mich. – Omihachiman

The GRSCI Omihachiman Committee is collaborating with several West Michigan organizations to raise funds. One hundred percent of all proceeds will go to the Red Cross Society of Japan as directed by the Consulate General of Japan in Detroit. Contact Jennifer Brown at [email protected] for more information and check the GRSCI website,, for updates on relief efforts.

Greenfield, Ind. – Kakuda

Sister Cities of Greenfield has been in contact with friends and some officials from Kakuda, which is approximately 45 miles south of Sendai. Representatives from the City of Greenfield, the Hancock County Community Foundation, Greenfield Sister Cities board of directors, and Caring Community Partners from Hancock Regional Hospital will collaborate to produce an official response to help the people of Kakuda.

Greenville, S.C.

Greenville Sister Cities International has teamed up with the Clemson Rotary Club to support board member Yuji Kishimoto’s response to the earthquake and tsunami. He will run the Boston Marathon to raise funds for shelter boxes from the American Red Cross to aid Japanese citizens. Greenville Sister Cities International has made a donation to the fund and will continue to reach out to local sister-city groups to raise funds for relief efforts. Contact Kishimoto at [email protected] for more information.

Hot Springs, Ark. – Hanamaki

The Hot Springs National Park Sister City Foundation implemented multiple fundraising efforts to comprise the Japan Relief Fund to aid Hanamaki. It has urged students at county schools to donate whatever amount they can as part of a fundraising drive. The school with the most donations will receive special recognition from the Hot Springs Sister City Foundation. The ABC Barber College also raised money on March 30 for the relief effort by donating all proceeds to the city’s Japan Relief Fund. To date, Hot Springs has raised over $12,600. Residents can donate to the fund at their local Simmons Bank branch. Information can be found at

Kenai, Alaska – Akita

Kenai Peninsula Borough in Alaska is collecting donations to send to emergency responders in its sister city of Akita. A tax-exempt fund has been set up through Soldotna’s Bridges to receive donations. Funds have also been sent to the fire department of Akita as well as a team of firemen to aid in rescue and recovery efforts in Akita.

Madison, Wis. – Obibiro

Obibiro and Madison have been sister cities since 1990. Wisconsin First Lady Tonette Walker has started a relief effort in support of those affected by the earthquake and tsunami. She’s encouraging residents to show solidarity by donating to the fund. Money raised will go to the Japanese Red Cross.,0,5874503.story

Middletown, Ohio – Osaki City

Middletown, Ohio has experienced a harrowing few weeks desperately searching for residents of its sister city. Osaki City is located near the hardest-hit region of Japan and communication to the area has been virtually impossible since the earthquake and tsunami. Marilyn Adams, former president of the sister city association, continues to hope for news from Osaki City while the City of Middletown discusses how to best aid relief efforts.

Mobile, Ala. – Ichihara

Mayor Sam Jones and Community Foundation of South Alabama President and CEO Tom Davis are urging Mobile residents to support the relief fund for earthquake and tsunami survivors in Ichihara. March 18 was “Ichihara Day” to urge people to donate to the fund. Mobile also hosted “Compassionate Hearts for Ichihara,” a family day that included Japanese music and food to raise money to benefit the people of Ichihara. Read more here.

New Brunswick, N.J. – Tsuruoka

New Brunswick is raising funds for victims of the earthquake and tsunami. Funds will be presented to the mayor of Tsuruoka, who will designate a charity to provide aid to the victims. After 9/11, civic leaders from Tsuruoka presented New Brunswick Mayor Jim Cahill with a $15,000 check to help victims and their families.

New Orleans – Matsue City

Last week, residents of New Orleans, sister city to Matsue City, created the NOLA Japan Quake Fund to administer donations to earthquake relief efforts. The fund was created by members of jetaaNOLA, Japan Club of New Orleans, Japan Society of New Orleans, Japanese Garden Foundation of New Orleans and Ikebana International Chapter 97, and Donna Fraiche, honorary consul general of Japan for New Orleans. Donations may be given at or call (504) 598-4663. Following Hurricane Katrina, Matsue City and its residents donated more than $48,000 to hurricane relief efforts. In 2006, over $40 million in relief funds was donated by Japanese businesses, governments, and citizens to the City of New Orleans.

New Paltz, N.Y. – Niimi City (Osa)

New Paltz stands in solidarity with its sister city, Niimi. Donations are being collected for the Japan Society in New York City.

Olympia, Wash. – Kato City

Olympia is appealing to the public for donations after its sister city, Kato City, was damaged in the recent earthquake. After the earthquake of 2001, Kato City donated a significant amount of aid to rebuild Olympia’s Fourth Avenue Bridge. Currently, the Olympia Kato Sister City Association is urging citizens to donate to Save the Children, the Red Cross, International Medical Corps, and Doctors Without Borders for relief efforts.

Phoenix, Ariz. – Himeji

Phoenix Sister Cities Himeji Committee created a Japan Relief Fund to benefit victims impacted by the earthquake and tsunami. Learn how to donate here:

Pasadena, Calif. – Mishima

Pasadena’s Sister Cities Committee set up a fund for the people of Mishima, which became Pasadena’s first sister city in 1956. Contributions will be sent to the Mishima International Relations Association and distributed to areas most affected by the earthquake and tsunami. Learn how to contribute here: Read the press release here.

Salt Lake City, Utah – Matsumoto

Salt Lake City has set up a relief fund for its first sister city, Matsumoto. After 9/11, Matsumoto donated funds to Salt Lake City that were later presented to then New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Learn how to donate at

San Diego – Yokohama

San Diego is accepting donations for relief efforts for Yokohama. Officials in the Japanese sister city sent funds to San Diego after the 2003 and 2007 wildfires. Now, San Diego is showing its support by sending food and raising money to aid survivors. Learn how to get involved at Also visit

Seattle  – Kobe

Seattle Japan Relief is a collaboration of Japanese American cultural, educational, and civic organizations that have come together to mobilize funds for an immediate relief effort for Japan. The website provides links to three charities receiving donations: Peace Winds America, American Red Cross, and YMCA of Greater Seattle. The page can be found at

Springfield, Ill. – Ashikaga

Mayor Frank Edwards and the Sister Cities Association of Springfield have set up a disaster relief fund to help people living in its sister city. Following 9/11, Ashikaga sent money to Springfield to pass along to those in need in New York. Springfield is anxious to repay this kindness. Donations may be sent to the Sister Cities Association of Springfield, PO Box 1474, Springfield, IL 62705. Checks should be made out to the Sister Cities Association of Springfield.

Springfield, Mo. – Isesaki

In a show of support for its Japanese sister city, Springfield began fundraising immediately following the earthquake and tsunami. The city will present a check to the mayor of Isesaki who will distribute the funds to areas most in need. Students, community members and local restaurants are all taking part in the fundraising efforts. Now celebrating the 25th anniversary of the sister-city relationship, Isesaki has a history of sending relief to Springfield in the wake of tragedy or natural disasters. Isesaki sent funds after an ice storm as well as in response to 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina (Springfield redistributed those funds to local relief efforts).

Tuscaloosa, Ala. – Narashino

The Tuscaloosa Sister Cities Commission recently opened the Narashino, Japan Disaster Assistance Fund to aid its Japanese sister city. Locals can make donations at any Cadence Bank to the fund’s account and checks can be sent to the Tuscaloosa Sister Cities Commission office. Additional information is provided at


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