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'With Aloha' funds will aid Japan hospital

By Duane Kurisu

LAST UPDATED: 3:48 a.m. HST, Apr 19, 2011

This story has been corrected.

Tohoku University Hospital in Sendai, Japan, was chosen as the beneficiary of the April 9 "With Aloha" fundraiser for several reasons.

» We wanted a recipient that would give local people the opportunity to donate directly to an institution in the area that itself was significantly affected by the natural disasters in Japan.

As the former mayor of Kesennuma City — and the uncle of Caoli Cano — I would like to thank you all for making the people of Japan always feel so welcome in Hawaii. Kesennuma City has long been a prosperous area, largely because its fishing industry is considered the best in Japan.

On March 11, after a strong earthquake and a tsunami that reached heights of 15 meters, our fishery was totally destroyed and our economy greatly damaged. The ships in the bay, homes near the shoreline, seafood processing factories, ice plants and shipyards have all been demolished and washed away. In addition, our oyster and kelp farms were completely destroyed. The nearby fishing areas in Ishinomaki City and Onagawa were also heavily damaged. But the saddest part of this disaster is the death toll, which, in Miyagi Prefecture alone, now stands at 7,374, with 6,369 people still missing.

Despite these terrible losses, the people who live in the devastated areas still believe in a better tomorrow and are making a concerted effort to rebuild their lives. We are being generously assisted by military personnel from the United States, England, France and other countries. It will take a long time to recover what we once had, but we have confidence that we will rebuild our city — in part because of the warm thoughts and sympathy we have received from the people of Hawaii. From the bottom of my heart, I ask for your continued encouragement, hope and support for our future.

I am very thankful that a group of people in Hawaii is holding a fundraising event for our benefit. I offer you our heartfelt appreciation and deep gratitude on behalf of all the victims in the affected areas. You have answered our prayers, and we are going to make every effort to recover from this disaster.

Finally, along with my deep appreciation for the support of your people, I wish great prosperity and growth for Hawaii in every way.

Thank you very much.

Masashi Sugawara
Former mayor of Kesennuma City, Miyagi Prefecture

» We felt our beneficiary should be actively involved in the relief effort and should provide clear evidence that our donors' generosity was making a tangible and immediate difference.

» We also wanted to build a sustainable relationship with our beneficiary, which would require ongoing support during the long process of recovery and reconstruction.

Tohoku University Hospital was a perfect fit. It is affiliated with one of the oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher learning in all of Japan. It is well known for its many medical specialties, and it serves the entire affected region.

Many clinics in the area's smaller communities are relying on Tohoku University for medical assistance. As a result, we knew we could put our donations to work at the very heart of the relief effort.

And because the wife of the president of PacificBasin Communications, one of our companies, was already on the scene — helping her mother and other Tohoku University Hospital patients — we felt confident that our contributors' dollars could be well accounted for.

When Caoli Cano, the celebrated Japanese recording artist and culinary expert, heard about "With Aloha," she immediately volunteered to participate. She also brought with her a letter from her uncle, Masashi Sugawara, the former mayor of Kesennuma City. According to Caoli, this was not just a letter from her uncle but a message from all the people of Kesennuma, a town completely destroyed by last month's earthquake and tsunami.

At right is his letter and the translation:


Duane Kurisu is a member of the With Aloha Foundation Committee for Tohoku University Hospital-Japan Relief Fund.


» Tohoku University Hospital is in Sendai, Japan — not Sendai, Tokyo, as was incorrectly edited in a commentary on Page F6 Sunday. Sendai is the capital city of Miyagi Prefecture and is the largest city in the Tohoku region.

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