So, who’s helping Japan?

Miranda Conway

Sometimes, avoiding homework can inspire you to be productive in other, more socially relevant ways…

Recent events in Egypt, Libya, and now Japan have left me sitting at my bedroom desk for hours on end, wondering about how the world should react. Or more importantly, how (or even if) the world should be involved. In search for answers, I hear Existentialists employ rhetoric about how insignificant we are in light of all this disaster. Agnostics might say that Mother Nature has taken its course. Uneducated Christians insist that God is punishing us and that we must simply stop sinning. Socialists may highlight the secret-evil intentions of the US to embark on yet another imperialistic venture.

But as far as “help” goes, I’d say Japan’s case is much simpler than that of the Middle East. So I’m curious… Who’s helping Japan? Who’s not helping Japan? Why? What are the implications? Is there hope for morality in the 21st century? Are we as apathetic as the skeptics say we are?

I figured I’d find all the numbers and let you decide for yourself.

In the list below I’ve compiled of countries (as well as foundations, and private companies) who have sent aid to Japan in light of the earthquake, tsunami, and hazardous nuclear reactors. Also included is a brief, quantitative inventory of their aid (pulled directly from articles which are cited at the end). I’m sure there’s some stuff missing, in which case you should correct me or offer more information.


* The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan has arrived in Japan to assist relief efforts. More U.S. warships arrived off Japan’s coast on Sunday, ramping up relief efforts.
* The U.S. embassy in Tokyo has provided an initial $100,000 in immediate disaster relief assistance, and Washington is ready to provide any additional help requested.
* The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has deployed two urban search and rescue teams, comprising some 150 people and around 12 dogs trained to detect survivors.
* A U.S. disaster response team sent to Tokyo includes experts in boiling water nuclear reactors from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.


* A 102-member South Korean rescue team departed for Japan on Monday aboard three air force C-130 planes. They were bound for Fukushima, where the earthquake-stricken nuclear plant is located. A further 100 rescue workers are on standby to go to Japan. An advance team of five rescue workers and two search dogs have been in Japan since Saturday.


* A 15-member rescue team arrived in Japan on Sunday, state news agency Xinhua said, bringing with them four tonnes of equipment for search and rescue operations, including their own power supply and telecommunications.
* The government has donated 30 million yuan ($4.56 million) of relief supplies to Japan, the first batch of which has already left Shanghai, including quilts and tents.
* Premier Wen Jiabao said on Monday Beijing stood willing to offer further help.


* A 28-member team of rescue specialists left for Tokyo on Monday. The team contains some specialists who recently worked in Christchurch, New Zealand, which was hit by a huge quake in February. It has sent its first batch of supplies, including clothing, blankets and food, and will start shipping heaters.


* Offered self-contained field hospitals and sent disaster victim identification teams, with two military transport aircraft carrying search and rescue teams.


* The cabinet has allocated 200 million baht ($6.58 million) to buy warm clothes, gloves, rubber boots, instant food and other goods to be sent to Japan in the next day or two in a military aircraft.
* It will also send 15,000 tonnes of rice.
* A first medical team leaves on Monday night, including two doctors and a nurse. They will primarily be taking care of about 500 to 600 Thai people in quake-hit Sendai, northeastern Japan. Thailand has another 17-staff medical team ready to go in the coming days.


* Will provide $200,000 in quake/tsunami aid, while the Vietnamese Red Cross will give an initial $50,000 via the Japanese Red Cross, state-run news website reported.


* Announced $1 million aid and a military relief team with medical assistance to be dispatched to Japan.


* The government is getting ready to ship planeloads of woolen blankets to affected areas to help fight cold weather conditions.


* It has sent fire brigade search and rescue specialists and equipment including heavy lifting and cutting equipment, and said it would send nuclear physicists if requested.


* Russia’s state nuclear corporation, Rosatom, said it had offered to help in responding to the problems at Japanese nuclear plants if necessary. Russia sent 75 rescuers on Sunday to work in quake-affected areas, the Emergencies Ministry said.


* The southern Afghan city of Kandahar announced it was donating $50,000.


* It has donated $1 million and 2,500 woolen blankets, and has also offered to send up to 300 soldiers to help with relief efforts, according to the country’s Montsame news agency.


* France has sent a search and rescue team consisting of 134 personnel.


* Germany has sent a search and rescue team consisting of 41 personnel and three dogs.


* Hungary’s emergency authority said it had offered a 16-member crew as part of the International Response Assistance Network (RANET) programme to check radiation and do medical advisory work in seven monitoring teams.


* Lithuania’s state fire and rescue service said it was ready to offer up to 32 rescuers, including three with search dogs and three paramedics. Lithuania coordinates assistance via the European Union.


* New Zealand has sent a search and rescue help team consisting of 65 personnel.

Contributions by other prominent entities include:

* The Turkish Red Crescent agency
* Switzerland’s Humanitarian Aid Response Team
* Canadian Medical Assistance
* Doctors Without Borders deployed doctors and first-aid workers to tend to the injured.
* Save the Children and Plan International.
* Telecoms sans Frontiers (TSF) is providing emergency telecommunications assistance from Tokyo.
* Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) currently has a team of 10 people divided into three teams conducting mobile clinics and assessments in Miyagi prefecture.

Private companies/institutions:

* The UPS Foundation has pledged $1 million for in-kind transportation of emergency supplies, trained humanitarian logistics personnel, and financial support.
* The Western Union Foundation, the philanthropic arm of The Western Union Co. in Colorado, donated $50,000 to Peace Winds Japan, which flew in tents for homeless survivors in Kesennuma and materials needed to build a 100-person shelter.
* Molycorp Inc., a rare-earths mining company also based in Colorado, on Monday donated $50,000 through the American Red Cross
* Pre-paid phone card charges on Verizon also will not be charged for calls made to Japan and land-line fees for calls to Japan will be waived, as well. Services are available free of charge through April 10.
* AT&T is offering free wireless calls from the U.S. and Puerto Rico to Japan as well as free text messages from the U.S. to Japan through March 31. Fees for land-line calls made to Japan of up to 60 minutes also can be waived by calling the company.
* Sony announced it will contribute money and 30,000 radios — often the only way those in disaster-stricken areas can get up-to-date news.
* Shiseido, The cosmetics giant, has decided to donate money and shampoo that doesn’t require water to use.
* The Kyocera Group will donate 100 million yen (US$1.22 million) for relief aid and reconstruction
* Google has launched a version of its Person Finder service for people caught up in the Japanese earthquake

There are many more countries that have contributed. These are just the most discussed in the media.

USS Ronald Reagan, deployed to Japan (17 U.S. military personnel involved in helicopter relief missions were found to have been exposed to low levels of radiation after they flew back from the devastated coast to the USS Ronald Reagan, an aircraft carrier about 100 miles -160 kilometers- offshore)

1. Reuters: Factbox: Aid and rescue offers for Japan quake
2. Hindustantime: Aid and rescue offers for Japan quake
3. Sify: EU says responding to Japan quake, nuke plant situation
4. LA Times: International aid to Japan continues to ramp up
5. Webwire: UPS Pledges US$1 Million for Japan Earthquake Relief
6. Denver Business Journal: Colo. companies donate to Japan relief
7. Companies working to help provide relief, communication in Japan
8. The Mainichi Daily News: Companies, individuals must pull together for Japan’s economic recovery
9. Stockhouse: KYOCERA Announces Donation for Japan Earthquake & Tsunami Relief Efforts
10. Bloomberg Business Week: Japan suspects nuclear reactor container damaged
11. BBC: Google aids Japan quake victims


  1. Daddy - O · ·

    Very Cool! BTW … the 75 or so Russians are spies sent to extract information on US technology (for military and other defense reasons) given to Japan. Make no mistake about the wolf in sheep’s clothing (shooting sheep for a living is a healthy career 🙂 )

  2. 2 Daddy – O
    You’re joking, right?

  3. Hu's the Daddy · ·

    Shame on US, UK and France for not sending any help at all. All words and no action! Even Thailand, VietNam, Mongolia and Sri Lanka have done better. China isnt making any noise about the help that it is providing- 10,000 tonnes of gasoline, another 10,000 tonnes of oil, a rescue team well-equipped with their own telecom, power supply and equipment, about US$ 5 million cash, and plenty more.

  4. You forgot Operation Blessing!

  5. Tipster · ·

    Well, Japan has legitimately no use for most of the aid that’s being sent to them. There are some crises where aid is highly effective, and from the reports I’ve read, the Japanese government basically says that more money is gonna be pointless because they have enough money already to do all of the things that they want to do. So it’s not like an anti-humanitarian lack of morality, it’s just that there are very few ways that the money could be used.

  6. Are you leaving Israel out on purpose? Its incredulous that you missed the one country that got to Japan ahead of every other country.? Israel was the first foreign aid country to setup a field hospital in Minamisanriko, a fishing city 290 miles north of Tokyo which was devastated by the earthquake and tsunami. The hospital has a full trauma unit and operating theater including a full maternity ward. Israel was one of the first to send help to Japan with an Israeli humanitarian aid organization landing in Japan on the 13th of March. Israel pledged aid to Japan an hour after the earthquake. Did you truly miss them out? Come on Miranda if you are so curious to find out who is helping Japan that you wrote an article about it, at least be accurate.

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