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EWC President Morrison on the Crisis in Japan
The East-West Center community expresses its sympathy and deep concern over the loss of life and on-going crisis in Japan resulting from the massive earthquake and tsunami. Our hearts go out to the family members of those who lost their lives and to the thousands who are still trying to locate family and friends, who lost property, or who have had to leave their homes. We salute those courageous workers and members of the military and other public services who are doing their utmost to contain the damage at the nuclear reactors and providing relief assistance to hundreds of thousands of Japanese. Please consider giving generously to the organizations involved in relief activities.

In response to the disaster, on Sunday, March 13, the EWC Participants Association held a vigil where students from Japan shared personal stories from friends and family directly affected by this tragedy. Students from Southeast Asia, who experienced earthquakes and tsunamis in their countries a few years ago, expressed an informed empathy with the Japanese students.

“It is very important to provide support during difficult times, especially when we are far away from our home countries and worrying about our families,” said Sharima Abbas, an EWC student from Malaysia who helped organize the vigil. “I've received emails from many of our Japanese ‘ohana saying that the gathering really helped them cope and manage their grieving better.”

The families of all East-West Center current student fellows from Japan are safe. We have been hearing from our alumni in Japan that they also are safe. We encourage all EWC alumni to visit the EWCA Facebook page or contact the Alumni Office ( alumni@eastwestcenter.org ) if you would like to connect with the wider EWCA community. We also invite you to share your images, stories or reflections regarding the experience on the EWCA Facebook page as a central communication point for EWC alumni affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

Participants in the EWC’s 2011 Japan-U.S. Journalists Exchange have just returned safely from Japan.  Click here to view an initial eyewitness report from Naha City, Okinawa, Japan aired on March 11 by seminar participant Hagit Limor, investigative reporter for WCPO TV in Cincinnati, Ohio, and president of the National Society of Professional Journalists. Seminar participant Eve Bower, international desk assignment editor for CNN International published an article on how the “ Earthquake response doesn't shake Okinawans' opposition to U.S. bases .” Ed Fletcher, a reporter for The Sacramento Bee , also wrote an article titled “ Japanese protest over Marine base halted; U.S. military sending disaster relief .”

Additionally, EWC specialists are responding to media inquiries about the crisis and sharing their expertise. EWC Adjunct Senior Fellow Toufiq Siddiqi recently wrote on Japan’s Nuclear Dilemma and the EWC in Washington’s on-going Japan Matters for America project posted an article on how the “ Tōhoku Region Matters for America ,” focusing on the three Pacific-facing prefectures nearest the epicenter of the quake – Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima.

We hope that the international community can effectively help local citizens and authorities in the recovery and rebuilding efforts. We encourage everyone to consider contributing to one of the following organizations dedicated to the relief effort in Japan:

Those seeking information about the status of friends and loved ones in Japan can check the following sites: