japan-earthquake-image.jpgAfter an 8.9 a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck Japan four days ago, efforts in the Bay Area have been underway to help victims and survivors of the natural disaster.

The Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco is constructing a relief website to help people easily donate funds and resources to the right places, Vice Consul for Cultural Affairs Wakana Arai said.

Since posting a phone number and e-mail address on Friday, the consulate has received hundreds of phone calls and e-mails from people wanting to help, he said.

Many local organizations came together today to discuss plans for continued humanitarian aid for Japan, Japan Society of Northern California President Dana Lewis said.

The society is working with the Give2Asia foundation, which has workers on the ground in Japan. Since going live with a donation website on Friday, they have raised $7,000 as of this morning.

Disaster relief will be a major focus at this year’s Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, held every year in April, as community organizations plan to keep a focus on helping Japan into the coming months, Lewis said.

San Francisco’s Clarendon Alternative Elementary School is planning a relief event at the school later this week, and later this month Rosa Parks Elementary School, in the city’s Fillmore District, will have a disaster relief fundraiser, Lewis said.

“We are concerned about attention fading after the immediate crisis,” Lewis said. “We are worried about Japan disaster fatigue, even though right now the fatigue is so acute.”

The Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California has been receiving hundreds of calls since Friday, according to the center’s director of marketing and membership development, Jeff Yoshioka. On Friday, they created the Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund.

Through a Facebook page, the center has raised $30,000, and donations keep coming in as the group receives contributions on behalf of other organizations, Yoshioka said.

In a personal effort, a small business owner in the Palo Alto area has decided to donate 20 percent of his taxi and limo service income toward the disaster relief. Jassi Singh has brought in $700 so far for relief and will continue to give part of his income for the next month. He plans to have a donation tracker on his Sunrise Taxis website.

“I want to do something helpful for other people,” Singh said. “If everybody can see [my donations], they will follow and say, ‘We should do that also.'”

Yoshi’s San Francisco, the Fillmore District jazz club, is putting together a benefit show with a local Japanese artist, office manager Helen Phan said. Although a date has not yet been set, Phan said something should come together soon.

At Hotel Nikko, near Union Square, guests can donate part of their meals and room rates to the Red Cross to help with Japanese disaster relief efforts.

Until May 31, guests can donate 10 percent of a prix fixe dinner bill at the hotel restaurant or give $10 for each night’s stay at the hotel, hotel spokeswoman Samara Diapoulos said.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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