Residents of Fukuoka in Japan have donated more than US$ 300,000 through UN-HABITAT to help bring relief to victims of the giant tsunami wave that claimed thousands of lives and destroyed vast tracts of land and property in several Indian Ocean countries last December.
UN-HABITAT’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, based in Fukuoka, launched a nationwide fund-raising campaign together with its supporting organization, the Japan Habitat Association, on 30 December 2004. In response to this call a number of initiatives have been launched both in the public and private sectors.
This special Campaign will last until the end of February 2005. Given the magnitude of the disaster, fundraising in support of the reconstruction efforts could continue for a number of years. Therefore, the office is calling for a sustained support throughout this process.
UN-HABITAT has received contributions and donations raised under the aegis of Fukuoka Prefecture Government, Fukuoka City, and civil society organizations like Fukuoka Overseas Students Association, Fukuoka Habitat Citizen’s Net, and Soroptimist International of the Americas Japan Miami Region, to name a few. Private sector donors include the Fukuoka Soft Bank Hawks, which recently bought the nationally known baseball team called the Hawks, and Canal City Hakata, a commercial real estate development. Both raised funds though events they organised. The commercial radio station, Love FM , is conducting a “Mission of Love” campaign to raise funds and report UN-HABITAT’s activity in the affected areas.
At a donation ceremony on 8 February, President Yasumasa Matsuoka of Soft Bank Hawks Marketing said that the current fund-raising exercise would become a “movement” to further expand the circle of citizen’s support. Governor Wataru Aso of Fukuoka Prefecture also expressed his wish that the UN-HABITAT Fukuoka Office would convey through its works the goodwill of the people of Fukuoka to the tsunami-affected people. At another ceremony held earlier, Mayor Hirotaro Yamasaki of Fukuoka City handed over the public donations collected by the City Government to UN-HABITAT’s Fukuoka Office.
The UN-HABITAT Fukuoka Office will allocate the funds collected to countries in the region hit by the tsunami, including Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand and the Maldives. Report on the progress of projects funded from the donations will be made available on its local website. As of 8 February 2005, total donations amounted to over JPY 30,000,000 (about US$ 300,000).