The horrific images of the disaster in Japan are reminiscent of the photos I saw in 2007 at the Hiroshima Peace Museum of the World War II devastation following the nuclear bomb. This is the worst disaster in Japan since World War II. Although I have no relatives in the Sendai area, the epicenter of the current disaster, my maternal grandparents immigrated to California from Japan in the early 20th Century and I adopted my two older children from Japan at the end of the century. I feel a personal connection and sorrow for the people of Japan, as I know many of you do.
Some of you will be in position to offer direct psychological assistance to Japanese victims and their families. The Veterans Administration has developed a useful psychological first aid manual, which has been translated into Japanese:
Many will want to donate money to help Japan. There are many relief organizations helping Japan. In selecting an organization to donate to, I encourage you to: (a) inquire what percentage of donations actually go to relief efforts vs. other costs, such as administrative expenses; and (b) inquire if the relief efforts are culturally competent, in terms of collaborating with and empowering
the Japanese people.
As those interested in Asian American psychology, let us keep the Japanese in our thoughts and prayers, and do what we can to help Japan cope with this disaster.
Articles on how Japanese people are coping:
Person finder in Japan:
Gordon C. Nagayama Hall, Ph.D.
President, Asian American Psychological Association