St Andrews’ Japanese community act in the face of adversity

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St Andrews’ small Japanese community has come together to raise funds for the victims of the devastating earthquake and tsunami.

Students at the university are organising events to allow people to support the relief and recovery work going on in Japan following one of the most powerful earthquakes ever suffered by the country.

Local businesses have donated generous prizes for a raffle, and a charity concert is being organised.

The Nahm-Jim restaurant has started a donation box and staff are contributing some of their tips to the fund.

Customers are also being asked to match a donation from the restaurant when placing an order.

Strathkinness teenager Esther Bowman, a pupil at St Leonards School, is being sponsored to make over 1000 origami paper cranes. Along with her friends and family, she has already raised £240 through her page on the Just Giving charity website.

Two Japanese students spoke to the Citizen this week about contacting their families back home after watching the disaster unfold on television.

Motoko Kaneko, from Nagano, managed to establish that her family are safe but remains worried about a friend who was living in a more vulnerable area.

“I have a friend who is missing,” she said.

“We can’t get hold of him and fear the worst as he was near where the tsunami struck.

‘‘My family are okay but they say the aftershocks keep coming and that is always a worry. It is difficult to be so far away from them but at least they know I am safe and out of harms way.”

Fellow student Kaori Kashi fears that her family in Kanagawa, near Tokyo, are struggling to buy basic supplies.

“It’s such a relief to know they are safe but they said supplies are getting really short,” she explained.

“A lot of the shops are closed and petrol is running out.

‘‘It’s natural to want to go back and help out but, at the same time, I don’t know if there is anything we could do if we were there.

“The least we can do is raise some money to help with all the relief work and the rebuilding that will come later.”

All of the money raised will be handed over to the Japanese Consulate in Edinburgh.

It is now a full week since one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded unleashed a devastating tsunami on the north east coast of Japan.

Thousands were killed when a wall of water swept miles inland, destroying entire communities.

There are now fears over the safety of some nuclear power plants and Prime Minister Naoto Kan has described the disaster as the country’s worst crisis since the Second World War.

Anyone wishing to help the Japanese students in St Andrews with their fund-raising work can contact Motoko Kaneko on 0799 051 3848 or at