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Japan Earthquake 2011: Should the United States Help Based on Japan's Response to Hurricane Katrina?

Updated on July 1, 2017
Survivors walk through the debris left after the earthquake that hit Japan March 11, 2011
Survivors walk through the debris left after the earthquake that hit Japan March 11, 2011

Why should America care about the devastation in Japan?

I have to admit that as I have read articles regarding the devastation suffered in Japan in recent days, I have been appalled at the number of comments stating that we here in the United States should not be concerned about the loss of life, the destruction of property and the ravaging of the Japanese economy that we have seen. It would be easy to get into a deep discussion of the political and economic reasons why the United States must be concerned about this tragedy, but instead I just want to focus on the moral reasons why. And it is simple really. Good people care. Period.

But even beyond that, as humans we must feel compassion for those in need, those who suffer, and those touched by tragedy. It is this sense of unity with our fellow man that makes us what we are. Without it we are less civilized and less worthy of compassion ourselves. We are nothing more than barbarians, neanderthals and primal beasts. If we cannot feel for those who have fallen victim to the mercilessness of nature when we are in a position to help, how can we expect others to feel for us when the tables are turned and it is our time to suffer? But some say Japan did nothing for us when we faced our time of need. Where was Japan, they say, when Hurricane Katrina came ashore?

The devastation of Hurricane Katrina
The devastation of Hurricane Katrina

A friend indeed if there as well when we're in need...

Many of the comments I have seen have focused on Japan's supposed lack of aid when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region of the United States in September 2005 killing over 1800 people. But the reality is Japan was very generous in their aid for those struck by the catastrophic ruin of Katrina. Within days of the tragedy, individuals in Japan had donated $1.5 million and one Japanese businessman donated $1 million of his personal wealth to aid victims. The Japanese government donated $200,000 in cash to the American Red Cross plus an additional $800,000 in relief supplies such as blankets, medicine and generators.

But these donations were just the beginning of Japan's reaching out to the Katrina victims. Japanese corporations donated over $12 million in the early days of the storms aftermath and the AEON Group, one of Japan's largest retailers spent the month following Katrina's landfall collecting donations at their more than 700 stores and also donated 1% of profits to the relief effort. The Japanese Red Cross partnered with Japan's leading television broadcaster, NHK-TV, got a national fundraising drive. Musicians and entertainers joined together for Hurricane Relief Japan to raise money at concerts and via artist websites.

American Search & Rescue dogs are on their way to help in Japan
American Search & Rescue dogs are on their way to help in Japan

It is not about the numbers. It is not about repayment.

In the end, I have no idea what the dollar amount of Japan's support for the victims of Hurricane Katrina ended up being and frankly, I do not see why a dollar amount matters. Wealthy Japanese donated hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars to aid those in need. The average Japanese worker gave tens and hundreds, dollars and dimes -- whatever they could to help people on the other side of the world from a place they probably have no hope of ever visiting. They did this for people from the nation that sixty years earlier had killed tens of thousands of their countrymen with the dropping of two bombs that were more devastating than any weapon ever utilized before or since.

They helped because the Japanese people understand that in the end we are all here for each other before all else. Nothing in this world is more important than life and the freedom to live happily and peacefully. We may have once been enemies, but we are beyond that now and must join together to overcome the tragedies that we face. Hurricane Katrina took almost 2000 lives and has a name to give it a place in history.

The earthquake that hit Japan on March 11, 2011 will likely have a death toll in the thousands and possibly tens of thousands but oddly will have to be given a name for the history books since quakes are not named. When the people of the future look back in the history books, lets hope that they will find Americans were just as generous in Japan's time of need as they were during ours.

Images of the Devastation in Japan

Please be advised that many of the images within the links below are somewhat graphic and may be too disturbing for some readers, but I thought it necessary to include these to illustrate just how devastating this disaster has been and how serious the crisis is that our friends in Japan now face.

Will you donate to help the recovery effort in Japan?

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    • ChristinCordle12 profile image

      ChristinCordle12 6 years ago

      It must be a nightmare to Japanese.

    • scott33thomas profile image

      Manuel Porras 6 years ago from Germany, Colombia, USA, Panama, Mexico, Spain

      understand very well what a tragedy of this type because in America there are earthquakes and tornadoes and hurricanes that have to support the Japanese people

    • Ross Harrison profile image

      Ross Harrison 6 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      DarkSinister, many thanks for your message, and much appreciate the link and support.

      Let's hope this ends soon, and Japan can rebuild.

      I look forward to reading more of your stuff.

      Best wishes,


    • DarkSinistar profile image

      DarkSinistar 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Ross, thanks for the comment. I read your account of the quake and must say that was gripping stuff. Glad you and your family and friends made it through okay. Hope you do not mind that I added a link to your story in my hub above.

    • Ross Harrison profile image

      Ross Harrison 6 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Darksinister, great article, from the heart.

      I have been in Japan for 8 years now, and can attest to the out pouring of generosity that Japan showed in the wake of hurricane Katrina. People were collecting on the street, charity concerts were held and the TV stations really made the people aware of the plight of those in New Orleans and beyond. Usually the Japanese are not so aware of international affairs, but at this time, they took it to heart.

      As you say, people care!

      Best wishes,


    • profile image

      Cooter 6 years ago

      @Plain Jane - I think the point is no one had ever had anything like the atomic bombs kill that many people in the blink of an eye and fortunately no one ever has since. What happened to the Japanese was unthinkable at the time. It would be understandable if they held a grudge but instead they became our friends. Both sides killed hundreds of thousands in the war, but nothing compared to those horrendous bombs.

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      Plain Jane 6 years ago

      "...They did this for people from the nation that sixty years earlier had killed tens of thousands of their countrymen with the dropping of two bombs that were more devastating than any weapon ever utilized before or since..."

      Let us not forget that the Japanese Imperial Army first killed hundreds of thousands hence the atomic bombs to stop them.

    • Katharella profile image

      Katharella 7 years ago from Lost in America

      @Jimmy: You're exactly right! I did say I accept that things are out of my control, so I handle them to the best of my ability. That's all anyone can do. I had no intention on elaborating the facts of why Japan built their nuclear plants on a fault line. But if I felt like it, I would move to Japan, as it's a beautiful place and culture. But I'm an American, and proud to be one, and choose to stay in my country. (With or without that husband, although my current fiancé would do anything to make us happy, that is also living life to it's fullest, who knows we may catch an episode of Jersey Shore, not our style but maybe with a Valium I could handle it if he liked it, but he doesn't so...)

      If you or anyone did a little research on power sources the Japanese are working on, then you wouldn't sound like you're trying to be a jerk as well. Since I do have Internet friends that live there I learn from them. is a great link to learn about them switching power sources. (Since you are redundant in saying "we've treated Mother Nature like crap for so long she's retaliating. What goes around comes around" are both in a short "Karma," doesn't make you appear the brightest candle on the Menorah)


      So rather than spewing nonsense and trying to dis me for my live and let live lifestyle, why don't you do what you say and forget what other American's are doing, and focus on yourself and GO LEND THAT HELPING HAND.

      American's do help American's, it's called

      "C-h-a-r-i-t-y" and it doesn't mean American's can't enjoy Jersey shore or say, a Japanese game or show!

      So, exactly Jimmy, what are you doing to help with Katrina? I believe the city is coming around, and let's see.. shows that our Government regardless of their slackness, have not forgotten about New Orleans / Katrina.

      It's obvious you have no idea of Charity or what American's really do to help ourselves and the world.

      Sure we need to look after ourselves, as does every country, but it doesn't mean life comes to a screeching halt just because you don't like the fact that, well, I'm obviously more intelligent than you and I'm more of a humanist than you. In fact, if you feel so horrible about Japan, why don't you go to some local churches and ask them for plane fair to get you to Japan so you can help them, and stop in New Orleans on your way back. That should keep you busy for awhile.

    • profile image

      Jimmy 7 years ago

      @Katharella Your story didn't address why Japan decided to build a nuclear power plant on a major fault line. What it did do is say that you accept that things are out of your control, that you have access to Valium and that you're willing to move to another state with or without your husband.

      I for one feel horrible about what happened to Japan, but it's happening everywhere. We've treated Mother Nature like crap for so long and she's retaliating. What comes around goes around. The universe always finds a way to balance itself out and there isn't much we can do about it. All we can do is lend a helping hand to our neighbors and prepare for the next round. If Americans would help other Americans instead of pointing their Jersey Shore noses into the air, we would have more than we needed to clean up Katrina. The same goes for Japan and any other country devastated by the elements.

    • Katharella profile image

      Katharella 7 years ago from Lost in America

      shazza13, While I understand what you're saying, I understand them as well. Here is why. When I lived in the North USA, I would see hurricanes battering the Southern Coastal area's. (and the gulf) I would say/think.. WHY ON EARTH do these people build and live in an area that they KNOW a hurricane is going to hit at some point, regardless of the intensity. It just baffled me! As I grew sick and tired of the harsh winters and rude people, road rage etc. I decided I was moving to the south with or without my husband! I just could not take winters any longer. Where did I end up? Within a few miles of Atlantic Beach NC!! As I was driving TOWARD the storm, wondering why every hotel was filled, and cars were going the other way, NONE were going the way I was! It was hurricane Dennis. I made it to my friends brothers house, and he filled me in a bit more about hurricanes and preparations. As the rain bands came, and went, and branches hit the roof I just listened and learned. Then it came night, and rain had flooded the entire yard, and I saw my car sinking. I then took two valium, and said, I need rest because there's going to be a lot of work to be done if we live. I went to bed, and a saying my mother always said went through my mind when my dad almost died in surgery. "Things are going to happen no matter what you do or where you are, life pans out the way it's meant to be." I woke the next morning to the work I knew was coming, and clean up. So I understand this small country Japan, it's need for survival, and the preparations they took or did not take. No one here can control Mother Earth, and if we all lived each day as if it were our last, well, let me just say, I'm never going to leave the south, even though I know I'm in hurricane zone, because the rest of life is more valuable to me than "if" I die in a hurricane. It's beautiful while I'm here, and maybe that is why they live like they do. None of us asked to be born in a certain place or time or culture. I believe it's just best to LIVE, while you have life to live. -Peace


    • profile image

      shazza13 7 years ago

      I can't understand why Japan of all countries, built Nuclear power stations, on a major fault line, and worst of all, and especially with they experienced with the Hiroshima bomb and how it affect the people of Japan....This rich country both financial and culture, perhaps should have harnessed mother nature!

    • profile image

      Matt 7 years ago

      That was a fantastic article!

    • profile image

      Brahmanyan 7 years ago from Bangalore, India

      It is a disaster to humanity. Every one should help Japan in this hour of need.

    • Katharella profile image

      Katharella 7 years ago from Lost in America

      Al, yer a jerk. This isn't all about MONEY, it's about HUMANS and if you were stinking rich, which I'm sure you're just stinking, how would you like it if all your riches (bank accounts etc) just went flooding down the street. In fact, it's people like YOU that should be forced to go help these people clean up what the world has done to their homes, their children, their schools, their personal IRREPLACEABLE photographs, and things handed down from their parents and grandparents. It's people like you who shame the world with your presents and vile words. No wonder you don't sign in and show your face.

    • profile image

      watergeek 7 years ago

      Thank you for this article, DarkSinistar. It's good to see the facts about Japan's disaster assistance for Katrina. We from the US often think of ourselves as being the only generous people in the world, but that's not so. And I agreed with a former commentor that we are all one world and ultimately one people, however it is we dress, speak, or act. What we do for our fellows helps ourselves too. What we put out comes back.

    • profile image

      al 7 years ago

      japan is richer than us and own half of the us already let them ceos here send money

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi DarkSinistar, we has people of this planet have a responsibility to help people who need our help, when we can no longer reach out to another human in need of our help than we has a planet are in serious trouble .

      Awesome and vote up !!!

    • profile image

      Brian 7 years ago

      Looks like our government owes 1 million in aid to the Japanese

    • Katharella profile image

      Katharella 7 years ago from Lost in America

      @ wizetech: Your post gives me back a little bit of faith in humanity just as the writer.

      I wish more people would come to realize, we are living in 2011 not 1942.

      In this age of electronics I've become friends with people all over the world. One very dear friend in Japan who has not shown any online activity since the horrible quake :( Everyday I TRY to be patient, but still my anxiety grows each hour I see nothing of her. I can only hope her and her family are without power at minimal.

      If a country can help another in it's time of need, it should be done without question, we cannot put a dollar value on life! I miss my Japanese friend, we had plans to teach each other cooking meals. She is also pregnant and has children. If I had the means, I would be there to find her and her family to open my home to them until order is restored.

    • wizetech profile image

      wizetech 7 years ago from Indonesia

      Good people care. Period.

      That's a very powerful and inspiring statement and nothing can be truer than that.

      We all are the citizens of Planet Earth, that's the fact.

      Nations are human defined and human definitions constantly change, but Love constantly cares.

    • profile image

      White Horse 7 years ago

      I don't think America finished cleaning up Katrina. America is the land of the philanthropist.....donate to the needy to make it look good.