One year after Japan tsunami, tomodachi

Sunday, March 11 marked the one-year anniversary of the fifth-largest earthquake in recorded history. Striking 45 miles off the coast of Sendai, Japan, the earthquake sparked a series of disasters that dramatically changed the lives of Tohoku region residents. The ensuing tsunami, destruction of buildings and land, as well as complications from the Fukushima nuclear plant, meant that the world’s eyes - and donations - were focused on Japan.

Initiatives such as the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s Operation Tomodachi (“friends”) brought much needed food and supplies to the stricken region, while philanthropic organizations such as the Center for Arab American Philanthropy (CAAP) led disaster relief grantmaking campaigns where donors leveraged their giving to collectively benefit humanitarian organizations such as the American Red Cross’ tsunami relief fund. Within the first month of the disaster, U.S. donors contributed nearly $250 million toward the Japan relief campaign.

While those initial humanitarian efforts are certainly venerable, lasting relief has developed from innovative initiatives to revamp and strengthen the Tohoku economy. The area has traditionally relied on the agriculture and fishing industries for income, and now programs such as Eat and Energize the East aim to improve and expand these sectors. Tohoku has been characterized as being inhabited by an aging population as most youth leave to offer their skills in large cities such as Tokyo or Osaka. An initiative called Entrepreneurial Training for Innovative Communities (ETIC) is working in Tokohu with young entrepreneurs to support and sustain small businesses. ETIC is prepared to expand its programming within the next year. As it stands, the environment in Tohoku is ripe for entrepreneurs and innovators - fortunately something Japan has never lacked.

CAAP aims to be responsive in disaster relief by collectively harnessing the impact of Arab American giving. To learn more about CAAP’s disaster grantmaking campaigns, please visit our website.

Photo courtesy U.S. Pacific Fleet


Center for Arab American Philanthropy
2651 Saulino Ct.
Dearborn, MI 48120


The Center for Arab American Philanthropy (CAAP) strengthens the impact of strategic Arab American giving through education, asset building and grantmaking, in order to improve lives and build vibrant communities.

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