This is a guest post from my husband who is a native of Japan.  His entire family still resides in Japan.

As some of you may know, I am from Japan.  I am so thankful that my family was not affected by the earthquake and tsunami.  I am from the western side of Japan (2-3 hours northwest of Kobe, Osaka, and Kyoto, where another major earthquake hit in 1995 and killed 6,435 people), so radiation from nuclear plants should not affect them either.  However, I am deeply concerned with the situation that Japanese people are experiencing.

Every year, Japan has at least one earthquake with magnitude larger than 6, so Japanese people are prepared for big disasters and have learned to manage them, but this earthquake was the biggest earthquake recorded in Japan and the fifth biggest earthquake ever recorded in the world.  Even though Japanese people are prepared for big earthquakes, when a big earthquake hits a well populated area, the effect is devastating.  There was not enough time for many people to evacuate before the tsunami came.  More than 8,800 people are reported dead and more than 12,000 are still missing (based on the report on March 21st).  Even if they survived the earthquake and tsunami, many of them lost their homes.  Radiation from the nuclear plant is threatening their lives and affecting local produce.  Supermarkets and gas stations have long lines because of limited food supply and gas.  Estimated damage is about $250 billion, but many worry about long-term economic damage not only in Japan, but also globally (Japanese companies supply many parts to the U.S. manufacturers).  Not to mention children who lost their parents and their psychological trauma.

To put this disaster in historical and global perspective, take a look at various natural disasters within the last 50 years:

Year Place Death Toll Magnitude
2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami (Japan) >8,800 and >12,000 missing 9.0
2010 Haiti earthquake 230,000 7.0
2005 Hurricane Katrina 1,836  
2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami 230,000 in 14 countries 9.1
1995 Great Hanshin or Kobe earthquake (Japan) 6,435 6.8
1989 Loma Prieta (San Francisco) earthquake 63 6.9
1964 Alaska earthquake 131 9.2
1960 Valdivia (Chile) earthquake 5,700 9.5

 
While Japan is an industrialized country with plentiful resources, they need help to recover from what is basically three disasters—the earthquake, tsunami and radiation exposure.  The effects from this event will be felt by the Japanese for years.

Please, if you have not, please consider donating.  Yahoo lists seven organizations that you can donate to and World Vision, CARE, and ChildFund are also good place to donate.