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Think Out Loud

Oregon's Japanese Community

Pete Springer/OPB

Mari Watanabe, the executive director of Oregon Nikkei Endowment, was on a bus in Tokyo when the earth began to shake. She was with the U.S. Japan Council, a delegation aiming to strengthen ties between the two countries. Though her meeting with the prime minister, scheduled for later that evening, was canceled, other meetings with corporate business owners marched ahead as planned.

Back in the U.S., images of Japan’s northeastern region began to illustrate the tsunami’s damage to property and agriculture, in addition to human loss. After the dust settled, another urgent threat emerged — explosions at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. Next, temperatures dropped to near freezing as power was cut off to hundreds of thousands of households.

Mari Watanabe is back in Portland and will share her experiences from the last week. She’ll be joined by residents of the Pacific Northwest who felt compelled to provide help to their loved ones and show compassion for a nation in need. And by business leaders and university students who have organized vigils, fund raisers and other events in response to the tragedy.

How was your business affected by the earthquake in Japan? How did you reach out to your loved ones there? Have you been inspirted to contribute to the relief effort and in what way?


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