Atlanta high and middle school students at the Sendai airport in the Miyagi Prefecture that suffered in the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami disaster that plagued Japan's coastal areas. The airport has been completely rehabilitated and the students are joined by Katsuhiko Ito, the airport president. They are standing in front of a mural with an image of the statue of daimyo Date Masamune, an esteemed samurai who came to the city in 1600.

Individuals and organizations from the U.S. have given $746.1 million to support Japan’s recovery from its “triple disaster,” an exchange organization announced on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis that struck the  coastline of the Tohoku region March 11, 2011. 

The Japan Center for International Exchange surveyed more than 1,300 organizations to come up with the figure, which constitutes the fifth largest outpouring of support from the U.S. for any tragedy, foreign or domestic. It’s just behind the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 and the devastating Haiti earthquake of 2010 for quantity of American donations sent abroad, according to the University of Indiana’s Center on Philanthropy

Georgia, which has cultivated ties with Japan for more than 40 years, played a key role. Companies like United Parcel Service Inc., Coca-Cola Co. and Aflac Inc. — all of which have major Japan operations — quickly sent millions of dollars of cash and in-kind donations.  

Most of the money was raised during the first year after the disaster. In just a few weeks after the event now known as 3/11, the Japan-America Society of Georgia had raised $50,000, and two months in, its total had risen to $275,000. The Consulate General of Japan in Atlanta received donations in the tens of thousands of dollars. Japanese subsidiaries in Georgia also poured out support, with their American employees spearheading many internal fundraising drives. 

In a recent interview with Global Atlanta, newly arrived Consul General Takashi Shinozuka said the country hasn’t forgotten these displays of friendship. 

The Tomodachi Initiative, an exchange program that sprung out of the U.S.-Japan cooperation that followed the earthquake, is still raising tax-deductible funds for rebuilding. Companies like Delta Air Lines Inc., which gave $250,000 in the earthquake’s aftermath, as well as Aflac, YKK, Toto, and others with a Georgia presence, are among the organization’s sponsors. 

Read Global Atlanta’s report from March 11, 2011, here: Georgia Connections Affected by Japan Earthquake. 

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...