Pray for Japan

I sat at a conference table high in the sleek glass Kasumigaseki office building overlooking Nagata-cho (Japan's equivalent of Capitol Hill or Parliament Square) comparing notes on the whaling issue with a leading Japanese political strategist. Suddenly his smartphone began to buzz.

I've survived several earthquakes in Tokyo. Thankfully the most recent was last year and not last night.

The is the Kasumigaseki building in Japan.

I sat at a conference table high in the sleek glass Kasumigaseki office building overlooking Nagata-cho (Japan's equivalent of Capitol Hill or Parliament Square) comparing notes on the whaling issue with a leading Japanese political strategist. Suddenly his smart phone began to buzz. He checked the screen for a moment and explained he'd just gotten an earthquake warning. We sat together in silence for a moment. "What should we do?" I asked him, working to keep my voice low and even. "We should stay here," he advised. The tremors were slight, and we went on with our meeting.

Just before sunrise over Cape Cod this morning, I lay in bed in the soft glow of my iphone reading an email from my longtime colleague and friend Naoko Funahashi, IFAW's unflappable representative in Japan.

I am considerably taller than Naoko, but I have always looked up to her. It is one thing to campaign for the end of whaling in the United States or Europe, quite another -- especially until recent years -- to do it in Edo. I'd asked her for input on a draft letter to government officials worldwide about pressuring Japan to finally stop whaling.

In the middle of her comments on the draft, Naoko had suddenly typed:

{Whao. Huge earthquaque now. My house and I survived for now. Biggest one I ever had.}

Apparently unperturbed, she returned to her analysis of the text. And then, lower down:

{Another earthquake.... TV say huge Tsunami coming/arrived.}

And then, typically, back to her email.

Naoko Funahashi and the author.

By the time I turned on MSNBC for my daily fix of "Mornin' Joe" the horrific footage of the tsunami slamming into Sendai was all over the screen. One of the many privileges of my day job is that I get to travel to Japan four or five times a year. And as ironic as it may sound, over the course of my twenty years or so visiting Japan, initially to work with members of the Japanese Diet on environmental issues, and more recently to push them to end whaling, I have fallen more and more deeply in love with the Land of the Rising Sun.

After sunup stateside, my daughter Isabelle (10) and I walked across the street to our village church for our second "Morning Prayer" service of the Christian season of Lent. As we sat quietly in the candlelight with three or four others and listened to the readings, I thought about the delicate Japanese paper lantern adorned with cherry blossoms that Isabelle had made at school and given me last year.

The lantern on top of Patrick's cabinet.

I thought of the close friends I have in Japan and the many friends and collaborators with whom IFAW and I have worked over the years, and what might have befallen them over the past several hours -- of the enthusiasm and commitment of the whale and dolphin watching operators based along the Pacific coast.

The leader of our little vigil paused and asked us to share concerns and prayer requests. "Pray for Japan," I heard myself say aloud. And we did.

By the time I arrived at work later this morning, IFAW Emergency Relief Disaster Response Lead Dick Green had already spent several hours mapping out a response plan for Japan. In due course, IFAW and our supporters will be doing what we can to assist the animals and people suffering from this awful tragedy. Much more to come on that over the next hours and days. For now, let's each do what we can, and whatever your creed or credo, pray for Japan.

-- PR

Keep checking back with the International Fund for Animal Welfare web and social channels for updates.

Comments: 6

7 years ago

Thanks for the post...let's continue to pray for more survivors. God bless. With are with you Japan.

7 years ago

I'm confused, what about the Dolphins?

7 years ago

hose pictures about the japan earthquake Touch our deepest soul.
After the earthquake, we’d like to do something for Japanese. So we developed this live wallpaper quickly, and hope this live wallpaper gather more strength to help Japanese rebuild their home.
Let's pray for Japan together!!!
We will be there with you, And our heart will be there with you. Never Give Up! Never Never Give Up!!!
Here is our live wallpaper of praying for Japan.God Bless!!!

7 years ago

Thank you for sharing Patrick.

7 years ago

Hi Ryan - there is a donate button on the middle right of the blog, or you can always donate via - Many thanks for your support.

7 years ago

How do we donate to IFAW specifically for the Japan relief effort?

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Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation