Mixed message surfaces over Japan's need for donations

Yusuke Ozawa, Consulate General of Japan, Vice Consul
Yusuke Ozawa, Consulate General of Japan, Vice Consul
Coralie Matayoshi
Coralie Matayoshi

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's been two weeks since the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan and people in Hawaii continue to donate money to help despite some confusion over whether it's really needed.

There have been various reports that say Japan doesn't need any more money or donations, but the Japanese Consulate here in Hawaii says those reports are misguided.

The headlines grab attention, "Don't donate money to Japan."  That one is from a Reuters blog. The New York Times ran a similar article. It stems from an information bulletin from March 15 that said, "The Japanese Red Cross Society, with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, has determined that external assistance is not required, and is therefore not seeking funding or other assistance from donors at this time."

So does Japan need the money?

"Yes I believe so," said Yusuke Ozawa, Consulate General of Japan, Vice Consul. "I know Japan still needs money and it's such a huge disaster and we never had that kind of catastrophe in modern history of Japan. We still don't know how much money we need to restore all the affected areas and we don't know how long it's going to take."

Ozawa has family in Sendai.  He says resources are getting to where they need to be but more help is needed.

"There is a serious shortage of food, water and housing so the money from around the world would be used for those kinds of things," said Ozawa.

It is true Japan has not asked for money but it is accepting donations.  That's not uncommon for developed countries. The American Red Cross says the United States didn't ask for foreign charity after Hurricane Katrina, still it took in $12 million from the Japanese Red Cross alone.

"The fact that somebody didn't ask doesn't mean they don't need it and they won't accept it.  I think they are really busy right now trying to assess the needs and there may be an appeal in the future there may not be but the bottom line is they do need help," said Coralie Matayoshi, American Red Cross, Hawaii Chapter CEO.

As for the International Federation of Red Cross, 186 countries are members and a team is on a fact finding mission in Japan now.  However it is unknown why they issued the previous bulletin not to help when their website appreciates the donations.

"The Japanese Red Cross has stated such that they are grateful for the generosity of the people of America and the American Red Cross. They do need the money," said Matayoshi.

"Well here in Hawaii there is Aloha for Japan project and Kokua for Japan project and we really appreciate that movement," said Ozawa.

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