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Locals fret for kin in radiation’s path

By Dan Nakaso

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 05:07 p.m. HST, Mar 17, 2011



Their relatives may have survived Japan’s killer earthquake and tsunami, but now Hawaii residents worry about the threat of radiation leaks from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in northeastern Japan.

Toshiko Abe, 91, of lower Palolo was born and raised in Fukushima and can’t sleep, even after days of worrying about her niece and her niece’s children back in Fukushima prefecture.

During a doctor’s visit yesterday, Abe’s blood pressure was up.

“She’s worried now about the Daiichi nuclear plant spewing its reactive materials,” said Abe’s daughter, June Motokawa, who took her mother to the doctor. “Her blood pressure’s so high. I know she’s worried.”

Today, the Honolulu Fukushima Kenjinkai organization will send letters to its 166 members with ties to northern Japan soliciting donations specifically to help Fukushima prefecture.

Separate letters also will be sent to Fukushima Kenjinkai groups representing about another 100 members in Aiea, Hilo and Maui, said Roy Tominaga, 76, past president of the Honolulu Fukushima Kenjinkai.

“We are very concerned,” Tominaga said. “City officials are telling them not to go outside if it’s not necessary — to stay indoors. If they do go out, they’re told to wear a mask and wet it as a precautionary measure. I hope they don’t get contaminated.”

Aileen Moriwake of Hawaii Kai is ready to send battery-powered air defusers and chlorella supplements that she hopes will help her dozen or so relatives around Fukushima City cope with the radiation release.

“They were told to stay indoors,” Moriwake said. “They feel they’re going to be OK. They said for now, they’re just waiting and watching.”

U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, was born in Fukushima, became a naturalized U.S. citizen and is the first female immigrant of Asian ancestry to serve in Congress.

Yesterday, Hirono spoke on the House floor and said, “Japan and the Japanese people do not stand alone. … Hawaii’s ties to Japan are deep.”

Ronald Yoshida worries about his older sister, Marian Moriguchi, who lives in Fukushima City and is following government instructions to remain indoors.

Yoshida wants Moriguchi and her husband to fly back to Hawaii “but the government is telling them to stay put and the roadway for her to get to Tokyo is impossible.”

Like other Hawaii residents worried about relatives in northeastern Japan, Yoshida is growing increasingly skeptical about the instructions coming from Japanese officials.

“From Day One, I told her to get out of there — why take a chance?” Yoshida said. “But the Japanese people in many ways try to be resilient.”

So for now, Yoshida can only wait to hear word from his sister every day via Skype.

“She hasn’t taken a bath since the earthquake and now she’s definitely worried about radiation,” Yoshida said. “She thinks that if she stays in the house, she’ll be sheltered somewhat from any fallout, but I don’t know. It is pretty scary.”

HOW TO HELP

Donations for disaster relief in Japan will be accepted by all First Hawaiian Bank branches until March 31, all branches of Central Pacific Bank until April 15 and all branches of Hawaii National Bank. American Savings Bank is also accepting cash and checks made out to “Aloha for Japan,” and will donate $50,000 and match up to $25,000 in employee donations through April 15.

Donations may also be made online to the Red cross at www.redcross.org or to other charities at www.charitynavigator.org.

L&L Hawaiian Barbecue is also accepting donations, as are Foodland and Sack N Save.






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