Culver City aids tsunami-affected families in Japanese sister city

In late 2011, eight Sister Cities International members received a Kaiser Permanente Benefits Group grant of $11,350 each to conduct projects with Japanese sister cities in the aftermath of the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

One of the grantees was Culver City, sister cities with Kaizuka, Japan. Upon receiving the grant, the Culver City Sister City Committee (CCSCC) decided to identify ways in which they could work together with Kaizuka to assist in the recovery and relief efforts for those affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

After extensive research and consultations between the CSCC and Kaizuka city officials, it was decided that the funds would be utilized to assist refugee families from the Fukushima Region trying to establish a new life in Kaizuka. A total of five families, part of the larger Kaizuka city refugee assistance program, were identified. Fukushima was greatly affected by the tsunami and the subsequent radiation spill from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Kaizuka, a city that had not been affected by the radiation fallout, consequently started receiving refugees from Fukushima.

Funds were then utilized to provide materials and services that the families required on an immediate basis. These included household supplies for the entire family, laptops for high school students, and various office supplies. Since the families had been in the nuclear disaster zone, the project also provided radiation monitors. One of the affected families was also provided a plot of land to cultivate by the city government and provided the family with a mini tractor as they began cultivating a batch of new crops.

To better help all the families better cope with the tragedy, the grant also provided counseling services. These services were especially important for the children in the five families.

Kaizuka Mayor Tatsuo Fujihara travelled to Culver City in October, 2012 to personally thank Culver City, the Kaiser Permanente Benefits Group, and Sister Cities International for their efforts.  He also addressed the city council and the community at large and said he was touched by the warmth shown towards his city.

The Culver City-Kaizuka relationship continues to be strong and the two cities are now researching ways to collaborate on expanding green initiatives in their city operations.

Kaizuka Mayor Tatsuo Fujihara speaking at the presentation ceremony

Kaizuka Mayor Tatsuo Fujihara speaking at the ceremony presenting support goods to refugee families at his city's "Statue of Friendship"

Culver City and Kaizuka delegates

(L-R) Culver City Assistant City Manager Martin Cole, Mayor Fujihara, CCSCC's Kathleen McCann, and Kaizuka City's Junji Matsutani at Culver City Hall

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