Last week the Culver City community joined Culver City Sister City Committee members to welcome Mayor Tatsuo Fujihara and his associate, Mr. Junji Matsutani, of our sister city Kaizuka, Japan. The purpose of their visit was to thank Culver City for its outpouring of support immediately following the March, 2011 earthquake in Japan.
The funds sent to Kaizuka came through individual contributions by both Sister City and individual community members, enabling the city of Kaizuka to provide shelter for seven families who lost homes and family members as a result of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami. During his visit Mayor Fujihara shared personal stories involving close family friends including that of a man who, after moving his family upstairs as the tsunami rose in the streets, went downstairs to get something else and was washed away in front of his wife and child. Another lost his wife, who was pinned beneath debris that had caught on fire. As the tsunami approached them, his wife told him to go and save himself. In doing that, the devastation threw him into such a depression that suicide seemed his only option. One of the refugee families, (for whom additional Kaiser Permanente Benefits Group grant monies has provided relief) lost husband and father when he went to the sea shore to check on his business prior to hearing of the approaching tsunami. He was washed away. These surviving families have been welcomed by the city of Kaizuka.
The Mayor was moved by the overwhelming warmth and friendship of everyone he met while in Culver City. It was a whirlwind visit for the pair, with Mayor Fujihara and Mr. Matsutani treated to a brisk round of tours, meetings, dinners, and honors, all facilitated by the Culver City Sister City Committee. Host family barbecues, SONY tours, the presentation of a proclamation by the City Council, and a panel discussion on emergency preparedness that included Culver City Mayor Andy Weissman and Culver City Fire Chief Chris Sellars rounded out their stay.
Funds are still needed for ongoing relief efforts in Kaizuka, and those interested in making a donation are encouraged to make their checks payable to the Culver City Sister City Committee, Inc., P. O. Box 1072, Culver City, CA 90232. Collections will be forwarded monthly to the city of Kaizuka.