George Washington University students Emi Kamemoto (left) and Rumi Fujii (right) help with relief efforts.
Images from Japan showing massive destruction after Friday morning's earthquake are being broadcast around the world and Japanese Americans here in D.C. are trying to contact friends and family oversees.
Masanori Mitsui came to the United States on a business trip and to do some sightseeing. Now, he waits nervously at the doors of the Japanese Embassy. He's here to find out if hell be able to fly back to his home country Saturday.
"I don't have any information about flight schedule so I have to make sure because my flight is tomorrow and also my home is near Tokyo and near Shiba. Also, I have to make sure my house is OK," he says.
He's been able to reach a few friends and family members via Facebook and Twitter, but its been impossible to get through to others by phone.
A spokesperson for the Japanese Embassy says they're advising Americans and Japanese tourists to call the U.S. State Department for more information.
Report From Dulles International Airport
by Jonathan Wilson
The Washington area is a destination for many international travelers -- and that means passengers arriving on flights from Japan were hearing about the massive earthquake as soon as they touched down at local airports.
Jae Lee is Korean, but he's studying in Japan. He says he flew from Osaka into Tokyo Thursday night, before leaving for Dulles International Airport.
"When I was in Tokyo they said there was a little earthquake last night, but that was it -- that's what I thought," he says.
That's more than many passengers arriving from Japan knew while they were in the air. Matsumoto Yoshiharu is part of the advance staff of the Tokyo's NHK Symphony Orchestra. He's preparing for the symphony's performances next week in D.C. and New York. But Friday morning it wasn't exactly clear when the symphony itself could get a flight to the states.
"Transportation in the capitol surrounding Tokyo is stopped," he says.
Mena Kurosawa also works for the orchestra but lives in the United States. Though many had trouble reaching relatives in Japan, she says she was able to talk to her mother in Tokyo Friday morning.
"My mom is still really scared, because there's still small earthquakes going on when I called her," she says.
Kurosawa says even though most people in Japan are used to earthquakes, most have never experienced anything as big as this one.
Students Aid Earthquake Relief Effort
by Jessica Gould
In the wake of the earthquake, Japanese students at local college campuses are reaching out to family members and raising funds to support relief efforts.
Junior Emi Kamemoto was on the phone with family members in Tokyo when the earthquake hit. Her relatives -- dad, stepmom and sister -- are OK. But she says she's still worried -- about them, and all the others in her home country.
"There's aftershocks going on. Buildings are still shaking all over Japan. It hasn't stopped since last night at 2 a.m.," she says.
Friday, Kamemoto and her friend Rumi Fujii set up a table outside the George Washington University's student center, where they're collecting money to aid the relief effort.
"Help raise money for the victims of the Japanese earthquake," she says. "People are in desperate need of help. Thousands of homes have been lost. Thousands of lives have been lost."
Kamemoto says she's impressed with students' response so far. But, she says, there's a lot of work ahead.
"All of Japan is going to need help rebuilding," she says. "Because a lot of infrastructure has been damaged. But most of all people’s homes have been destroyed."
She says Japanese-American students across the area are working together on relief efforts, and they plan to hold a regional fundraiser in the coming weeks.
WAMU's Intersection at HD3 is carrying live coverage throughout the day of the events unfolding in Asia, the Middle East and here in D.C. Tune in to HD Channel 3 or listen to the live stream online for the latest updates.
NPR has a photo gallery of the destruction in Japan along with a report on the impact of the earthquake, international response and more background on other killer quakes.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is blasting Republicans who claim that the department's workers can weather a temporary shutdown if Congress can't finish legislation to fund the department by the end of Friday.
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