Hamasaki Ayumi makes 30 million yen donation to relief efforts in Japan

Singer Hamasaki Ayumi (32) has been very active in response to the massive earthquake last week, constantly spreading news and messages through her official Twitter account to her more than 450,000 followers. On Friday, her record label Avex revealed that she has also donated 35 million yen so far towards the relief efforts in the affected areas.

According to Avex, her most recent donation was a 30 million yen contribution to the Japanese Red Cross on Friday. Before that, she had already given to other organizations, donating 1 million yen on March 12 and 13, and an additional 3 million yen on March 14.

Hamasaki also announced a few days ago that she is collaborating with fashion magazine ViVi for charity T-shirts, which she designed herself. Each shirt is selling for 1,500 yen, and all sales will go towards helping victims in the affected areas.

Hamasaki had seven CD releases simultaneously scheduled for March 30, but Avex has postponed all of its new releases that were planned for late March. Tickets for her Saitama Super Arena concerts on April 9-10 were also scheduled to go on sale this weekend, but those have been postponed for now.

Kawashima Ai singing in the streets for earthquake relief

Singer-songwriter Kawashima Ai (25) is currently touring around western Japan, raising funds for the earthquake relief efforts with a series of street performances. Counting her latest performance in Kobe on Sunday, she has so far raised close to 885,000 yen.

Kawashima started in Hiroshima on March 17 and has done a total of six street performances so far. For the Kobe performance, she sang three songs in front of a crowd of 350 people, including the song “Daijoubu da yo.” Because Kobe was hit the hardest by the Great Hanshin earthquake in 1995, she appealed to the crowd by asking them to empathize with the pain of the current earthquake victims in the Tohoku region.

After her performance, she asked for donations, even as little as 1 yen. She also raised funds by selling her CDs, letting buyers set their own price, as long as it was at least 300 yen. In Kobe, she collected almost 150,000 yen. She performed again the same day in Kawanishi, Hyogo, and raised another 220,000 yen.

Opposition calls on Japan’s Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara to quit

Japan’s biggest opposition parties Sunday called on Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara to resign for accepting donations from a foreign national, piling more pressure on the embattled government of Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

Maehara, a security hawk who is often cited as a possible successor to the unpopular Kan, has said he would not quit, but added that it was up to the prime minister to decide his fate.

Maehara’s resignation would be a blow to Kan and his ruling Democratic Party (DPJ) as the prime minister fights to keep his own job and avoid calling a snap election while trying to enact budget bills in a divided parliament.

"A foreign minister is at the forefront of negotiations with foreign countries. If a person in that post has taken donations from foreign nationals, resignation is unavoidable," Yosuke Takagi, acting secretary-general of the New Komeito party, said in a televised debate.

New Komeito is the second-largest opposition behind the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

Read the rest of the story: Opposition call on Japan foreign minister to quit over donations.