Thu, Mar 17, 2011 - Page 3 News List

JAPAN DISASTER: Donate, former envoys say

By Vincent Y. Chao  /  Staff Reporter

With thousands dead, hundreds of thousands left homeless and aftershocks continuing around Japan, Taiwan’s former representatives to the disaster-torn country are calling on the public for more help.

“When Taiwan has met with difficulty, Japan was always the first to give its support. Now with the problems in Japan, Taiwan should repay that care,” said Koh Se-kai (許世楷), who was Taiwanese representative to Tokyo from 2004 to 2008.

The government has announced an official cash donation of NT$100 million (US$3.38 million). It is expected that personal and other charitable donations being collected by non-profit organizations will exceed the government’s amount.

However, that money could be a drop in the ocean given the widespread economic disruption that the record magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami have caused in Japan. More donations are not only needed, but also essential, the representatives said.

“Think about the 500,000 that have so far already been made homeless,” said Lo Fu-chen (羅福全), Koh’s predecessor. “They are going to need a while to recover and Taiwanese should stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Japanese.”

Already, there have been requests for the government to dramatically increase the official amount, invoking calls that the figure should be modeled closer to the billions donated following China’s Sichuan earthquake in 2008.

Following the 921 Earthquake in Taiwan, Japan’s donations, both public and private, amounted to about NT$1.2 billion for reconstruction efforts. Rescue teams and supplies from Japan were also the first to arrive amid the devastation, especially in central Taiwan.

Hoping that the government will follow in their example, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials yesterday announced they had set up a donation hotline and that proceeds would be given directly to the Japanese Red Cross.

“The government hasn’t paid enough care to Japan,” DPP Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) said. “During the Sichuan earthquake, the government actively asked for donations and officials also gave personal contributions.”

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