For more news about the activities of UC personnel, students and organizations, go to Facebook and like UC Japan Disaster Response page.
By Harry Mok
While other University of California personnel were leaving Japan, Dr. Kozue Shimabukuro, a UCLA pediatric critical care specialist and Japan native, flew in to join a Japanese government medical team sent to the disaster area.
The March 11 quake and tsunami hit just as Shimabukuro was planning a trip to Japan. She changed her plans immediately and volunteered for relief operations.
Shimabukuro's undertaking is one of the ways UC faculty, staff, students and organizations are responding to the disasters in Japan. Other UC efforts may not be as courageous as Shimabukuro's, but numerous fundraising campaigns were started, and UC scientists offered their knowledge to help understand the quake, tsunami and crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
"I grew up in a small farm town where nobody wanted to educate a young girl from the village," Shimabukuro wrote from Tokyo in an email to colleagues at the Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA. "My government believed in me, and gave me a scholarship to go study in America. I was able to fulfill my dream of becoming a physician. Now it's my turn to believe in Japan."
Hitoshi Abe, director of UCLA's Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies, was born and raised in Sendai, one of the hardest hit areas by the quake and tsunami. Abe and colleagues from the Terasaki Center compiled a list of charities that they believe can deliver aid quickly and directly to the people who need it. Abe also wrote a heartfelt letter about his hometown, which was a university town with a famously beautiful coastline.
Scientists from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, UC Berkeley, UC Riverside, UC San Diego and UCSF have offered their expert opinions on quakes, tsunamis and the risks for radiation exposure on the West Coast. UC scientists also monitored radiation in California.
In the days following the quake and tsunami, UC suspended its study-abroad programs in Japan and evacuated its students, staff and faculty. Also, all non-essential travel to Japan by UC personnel was suspended.