Mystery donor leaves $131,000 for Japan tsunami relief in a restroom

A mystery donor in Japan has left a bag containing 10 million yen $131,000 in a restroom with a note saying it should be used to help a tsunami-hit area, Japans Kyodo news agency reports.The plastic bag was found in a municipal office for the city of Sakado, in Saitama Prefecture, the office said Thursday, according to Kyodo.

Read the rest of the story: Report: Mystery donor leaves $131,000 for Japan tsunami relief.

Artist’s Hampton Home Sale Slated for Japan Relief Efforts

AFTER the earthquake and nuclear crisis hit Japan in March, Setsuo Ito wanted to help his former countrymen. To do so, he felt an urgency to sell his hilltop estate in Water Mill, N.Y. , which had been languishing on the market for three years.

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“I didn’t want to wait,” said Mr. Ito, 63, a Japanese-American artist and designer. “People need help right now.”

Mr. Ito was born in an area near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station reactors that were heavily damaged and leaking radiation, he said, and wanted some of the money from the sale of his house to aid Japan.

Read the rest of the story: Proceeds From Hamptons Sale Slated for Japan.

$24.7 Billion Approved by Japan’s Cabinet for Disaster Relief

Japans government has approved a second budget of 2tn yen $24.7bn; £15.4bn for reconstruction after the 11 March earthquake and tsunami.The money will be spent on rebuilding, and on compensating victims of the Fukushima nuclear crisis.Japan is facing huge public debts and will not borrow money from the market for this budget.

Read the rest of the story: Japans cabinet approves $24.7bn for disaster relief.

Panda Restaurant Group Contributes to Japan’s Red Cross

The Panda Restaurant Group, parent company of Panda Express, Panda Inn and Hibachi-San contributed more than $450,000 to the American Red Cross in support of Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Relief. Panda’s charitable giving arm, the Panda Charitable Foundation matched a $228,966 donation made by Panda Express customers through an in-store Japan relief campaign. Fifteen Panda employees presented the check at a ceremony held during a briefing at the American Red Cross Los Angeles Emergency Operation Center on June 8.

“We would like to thank the leaders of the Panda Restaurant Group, its associates and its generous guests for raising this significant gift to help those still suffering in Japan,” said Paul Schulz, American Red Cross Los Angeles Region CEO. “It is clear that Panda is committed to helping the people of Japan so devastated by the recent disasters there.”

Read the rest of the story: Panda Restaurant Group Makes Major Donation to Red Cross for Japan Disaster Relief.

Justin Bieber lifts spirits in tsunami-hit Japan

Youve likely heard the idiom, "politics makes strange bedfellows." In Tokyo, at the U.S. Ambassadors Residence, the saying came to life as teen heartthrob Justin Bieber, the American and Canadian ambassadors to Japan and nine children from the tsunami-ravaged region of Japan gathered in a small room in front of the international press.

The 17-year-old Canadian pop star walked into the room with the children and squeezed onto a couch with them. The girls and boys, all representatives of some of the hardest-hit communities in northeastern Japan, shyly peered at Bieber as he made small talk with them.

Read the rest of the story: Reporters notebook: Justin Bieber lifts spirits in tsunami-hit Japan.

9,500 still missing in Japan after two months of searching

More than two months after a devastating earthquake and tsunami ravaged the Tohoku region, about 9,500 people remain unaccounted for.

Police and Self-Defense Forces personnel continue to search the wrecked areas, but as time passes fewer bodies are being found. Identifying bodies is also proving difficult, as the extreme force of the tsunami stripped victims of clothes, IDs and jewelry.

At a temporary burial site on a hill in Higashimatsushima, Miyagi Prefecture, the graves of unidentified victims are marked only with numerals written in kanji.

Read the rest of the story: Two months later, whereabouts of 9,500 still unknown.

Japan plans $35 Billion extra budget for disaster relief, yet no more debt issue

Japan will not issue new debt to fund an initial extra budget of more than $35 billion for disaster relief, the Asahi newspaper said, in a sign the government is wary of alarming bond investors by adding too much to Japan’s already huge debt pile.

But after the first extra budget, which will focus on funding immediate cleanup and repair work from last month’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, the government will likely spend far more in subsequent emergency budgets and may need to issue new bonds to cover the costs, analysts say.

The more than 3 trillion yen ($35 billion) in the supplemental budget will pay for repairing roads, ports and schools, as well as helping those in quake-hit regions in Japan’s northeast find new jobs, the Asahi reported on Wednesday.

Read the rest of the story: Japan plans 3 trillion yen extra budget, no debt issue: media.

Japan’s Red Cross under scrutiny for not distributing aid quickly enough

According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s latest tally, donations to Japan relief efforts now total more than $161 million with close to three-quarters being raised by the American Red Cross. This amount still lags behind amounts raised in the two week aftermath of last year’s earthquake in Haiti ($528 million) and 2005’s Hurricane Katrina ($1 billion).

In related news, the Los Angeles Times reports that Japan’s Red Cross has recently come under fire for not having yet distributed any of the $1 billion in funding raised for the earthquake and tsunami victims. According to the publication, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano urged that the process be accelerated on Sunday.

Read the rest of the story: Japan’s Red Cross comes under fire for not distributing aid quickly enough.

SDF and US Joint Search Turn Up 20 More Bodies

The Self-Defense Forces, the U.S. military and other rescue workers recovered 20 bodies Saturday as their three-day intensive search for the missing in tsunami-hit coastal areas of Tohoku continued.

During two days of searching by some 18,000 SDF personnel and about 7,000 U.S. military personnel, as well as members of the police, the Japan Coast Guard and fire departments, the total number of bodies recovered stands at 53.

The bulk of Saturday’s operation was held in and around Ishinomaki, one of the worst-affected cities in Miyagi Prefecture. A search was conducted around an elementary school where many pupils were reported missing after the tsunami, while some 50 divers from the SDF, the Japan Coast Guard and other entities were deployed to nearby Kitakami River, the largest in northeastern Japan.

Read the rest of the story: Joint search turns up 20 bodies

X Japan’s Toshi to hold charity concert tour

X Japan vocalist ToshI will embark on a charity concert tour next month, raising funds for the rebuilding efforts in the earthquake-stricken Tohoku region. He will perform 8 concerts in 4 cities, starting in Gifu on April 9 and continuing with Kanazawa, Osaka, and Fukuoka.

Although none of the concerts are in eastern Japan, which is currently suffering from a shortage of electricity, ToshI will still be conserving power by performing with an acoustic orchestra. During the tour, he will unveil his new song “Haru no Negai,” written by Yoshiki and songwriter Shida Masae for the recovery of the disaster-affected areas.

ToshI stated that he is currently unable to include any concerts in eastern Japan due to power and safety concerns, but he hopes to be able to add some in the future, depending on conditions in those areas.

X Japan bassist HEATH and LUNA SEA drummer Shinya will be participating in the tour as well.

In addition to the concert tour, the X Japan members and others will auction off personal items and donate all of the proceeds to the Japanese Red Cross.