8 posts categorized "Japan"

Weekend Link Roundup (March 9-10, 2013)

March 10, 2013

Daylight_savings_2013Our weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....


In a two-part series on her Non-Profit Marketing blog (here and here), Katya Andresen shares highlights of a discussion she had with Allyson Kapin and Amy Sample Ward about the key themes in their recently published book Social Change Anytime Everywhere, including how nonprofits can use online tools to advance their work.

On the Communications Network blog, Courtney Williamson, the network's community manager, shares slides and video from Avoiding the Blind Spot: Telling Your Story With Pictures, a recent network webinar featuring Resource Media's Liz Banse and Scott Miller. Among other things, Banse and Miller outline three principles of good communication: 1) people are visual first, verbal second; 2) people's decisions and actions are based on emotional reaction more than rational thought; and 3) visuals are the most effective communications vehicles for evoking emotion and getting people to take action.

Disaster Relief

On the techPresident blog, Julia Wetherell looks at findings from a new Internews report on the effectiveness of crisis mapping following the 2011 Tohoku earthquake in Japan. Among other things, the report found that the crisis map created on the Ushahidi platform was "not as critical to [the humanitarian] response" as previously thought, in part because many victims of the disaster weren't aware of it. "The accessibility of crisis mapping was also dependent on the availability of Internet service," says Wetherell. To address that shortcoming, the report recommends strengthening IT infrastructure, particularly in less connected rural areas, before the next disaster hits.

NPR has a good interview with reporter Jonathan Katz, author of The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster.

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (March 26-27, 2011)

March 27, 2011

Crocuses_snow Our weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Arts and Culture

In a post on his Createquity blog, Ian David Moss deconstructs the recent controversy sparked by NEA chair Rocco Landesman’s comments about supply and demand in the arts. The "phenomenon of oversupply...is far, far bigger than the nonprofit arts sector," writes Moss.

It affects industries ranging from video games to smartphone application stores, Facebook, cable TV, and yes, blogs. In many ways, it is existential in scope: our brains and lifespans are not built to withstand this onslaught of choices. The supply of artists, arts organizations, and even capital may increase with relative ease, but the supply of time in the day, last I checked, remains pretty constant.

So to me, the conversation we should be having is not about reducing supply. Instead it is about defining the responsibilities of cultural institutions to provide stewardship for a world in which supply of creative content is exploding and will never shrink. In this era of infinite choice, there is a desperate need for guidance as to how we should allocate the precious few hours that we have to experience something that will feed our souls, make us think differently, or incur a hearty laugh. In other words: for curation. We need someone to listen to, watch, and view all of the chaff so that we can confine our own time to the wheat....


On her Non-Profit Marketing blog, Katya Andresen shares findings from a recent study which found that when it comes to social media adoption, the top 200 charities outpace both Fortune 500 and Inc. 500 companies.

To help nonprofit communicators working at emergency response organizations formulate a better ask in the wake of a disaster, Getting Attention's Nancy Schwartz offers some advice on her blog.

Disaster Relief

More than two weeks have passed since a violent earthquake and massive tsunami devastated large areas of northeastern Japan. On the GiveWell blog, Holden Karnofsky updates and clarifies the GiveWell position vis-a-vis to donating to relief and recovery efforts in Japan, especially in light of a bulletin issued this week by the Japanese Red Cross which states that the relief organization, "with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, has determined that external assistance is not required, and is therefore not seeking funding or other assistance from donors at this time."


National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy executive director Aaron Dorfman explains why the size and diversity of a foundation's board matters on the organization's Keeping a Close Eye blog.


In the second part of a two-part series on the Foundation Center's Transparency Talk blog, Commonwealth Fund executive vice president and COO John Craig offers a few guidelines for revising the 990-PF form that, says Craig, "would strengthen the sector's own self-regulatory efforts to ensure effective use of the nation's philanthropic resources."

GuideStar president and CEO Bob Ottenhoff proposes three ideas to help high-performing organizations better prepare for "black swans" -– "high-impact, hard to predict, and rare events that are beyond the realm of normal expectations in history, science, finance, and technology."


On the Philanthropy Potluck blog, Chuck Peterson, vice president of member relations at the Minnesota Council on Foundations, celebrates the fortieth anniversary of the Association of Black Foundation Executives.

Rosetta Thurman explains why nonprofit leaders should not be encouraged to vie for mangement roles like the folks on NBC's hit TV show The Apprentice. Writes Thurman, "Organizations have an enormous opportunity (especially nonprofits) to reframe how they define and reward leadership among staff. If people are only rewarded when they earn promotions, it's much more likely that there will be competition to be the 'top dog.'"


Nice Q&A in the Wall Street Journal with Grameen Bank founder Muhammad Yunus about the Nobel laureate's rift with the government of Bangladesh, what it means for Grameen's future, and the status of succession plans at the bank.


On the Harvard Business Review blog, Uncharitable author Dan Pallotta gives six reasons why a bill proposed by Oregon's attorney general that would strip the tax-deductibility of donations made to organizations spending less than 30 percent of their annual budget on services over a three-year period should be withdrawn.

Social Entrepreneurship

The Case Foundation's Allie Burns rounds up news from and blog coverage of the recently concluded South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive conference, including a video in which Skimbaco's Katja Presnal chats with PepsiCo social media and digital director Bonin Bough and Fast Company senior innovation editor Ellen McGirt about the most exciting things to emerge at the conference.

That's it for now. What did we miss? Drop us a line at rnm@foundationcenter.org. And have a great week!

-- Regina Mahone

A 'Flip' Chat With...Wendy Harman, Director of Social Media, American Red Cross

March 24, 2011

(This is the sixteenth in our series of conversations with thought leaders in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. You can check out other videos in the series here, including our previous chat, with Taproot Foundation president and founder Aaron Hurst.)

It's been two weeks since a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami devastated northeastern Japan, and video footage of the disaster -- of coastal villages turned into matchsticks, of cars tossed about like they were bath toys, of a wall of water devouring everything in its path -- still shocks and is unnerving to watch. The disaster, which may have cost 20,000 people their lives, is likely go down as the most expensive ever (and that's before any costs associated with the ongoing emergency at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex are figured in), and it will be years before Japan and the Japanese people have fully recovered.

Americans responded quickly and generously in the days after the disaster, and by this past Monday had donated $136 million to relief and recovery efforts in Japan -- almost two-thirds of that to the American Red Cross.

In our latest "Flip" chat, Wendy Harman, director of social media at the Red Cross, talks with social media strategist Larry Blumenthal, co-host (with Bill Silberg) of our new Talking Philanthropy series, about the public response to the quake and tsunami, the organization's social media strategy in the wake of a disaster, and some of the things the Red Cross is doing under her leadership to maximize its social media efforts.

(If you're reading this in an e-mail, click here.)

(Total running time: 6 minutes, 12 seconds)

What do you think? Has the Red Cross discovered the "secret sauce" in terms of social media? Is online and mobile giving supplementing or cannibalizing more traditional giving channels? And is, as many have said, the fundraising model for disaster relief in this country broken?

Japan-Related Orgs Raising Money for Relief and Recovery Efforts

March 21, 2011

Over the weekend, Laura Cronin, director of the Toshiba America Foundation and a regular contributor to PhilanTopic, sent along a list of Japan-related organizations in the U.S. that have created funds to raise money for both short-term relief and longer-term recovery and reconstruction efforts in Japan. For a comprehensive list of U.S. organizations raising funds, see this list from the Chronicle of Philanthropy. For additional information and resources, visit the Web site of the Embassy of Japan in the U.S.

Japanese American Association of New York
According to its president, Gary S. Moriwaki, JAANY is collaborating with other organizations to raise funds for relief and recovery efforts and is exploring where the monies can be put to best use. The association says that donations will go to organizations in Japan directly contributing to relief and recovery efforts.

Japanese American Society of Indiana
The society has established a statewide Japan Earthquake Relief Fund to provide assistance to people most directly impacted by the disaster. The organization says it will distribute the funds in a timely manner to carefully selected and recognized Japanese relief organizations assisting those most in need.

Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE/USA) | Japan NGO Earthquake Relief and Recovery Fund
The sister organization of one of Japan's leading international affairs organizations, JCIE/USA is directing half the money it raises to six of Japan's leading disaster relief NGOs and will use the remaining 50 percent to establish a separate fund that supports NGOs engaged in long-term reconstruction efforts.

Japenese Chamber of Commerce and Industry
JCCINY and the Nippon Club, two anchors of the Japanese community in New York, have established the 2011 Northeastern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund to aid victims of the disaster.

Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California
Headquartered in San Francisco, JCCCNC will pass along donations to its Earthquake Relief Fund to local nonprofit and community service organizations in Japan working to reach those most in need.

Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme Alumni Association of New York
The JET Alumni Association of New York is collecting donations on behalf of JETAA USA for relief efforts.

Japan ICU Foundation
The U.S. "friends" organization for International Christian University, Tokyo is raising funds for scholarships and to support Japanese students from areas affected by the quake and tsunami.

Japan Society
The Japan Society has partnered with several Japanese and American nonprofit organizations and is looking to partner with additional organizations that can have maximum impact, both in terms of immediate relief needs as well as long-term recovery.

Peace Winds America
An affiliate of one of Japan's major humanitarian assistance organizations, Peace Winds America is raising funds for relief efforts being carried out by its Japanese counterpart.

U.S.-Japan Council
The D.C.-based council's Earthquake Relief Fund is channeling donations to Japanese organizations involved in both immediate relief and long-term reconstruction efforts.

-- Laura Cronin

Crisis in Japan: The Grantmaker Response

March 18, 2011

Early data compiled by the Foundation Center show that U.S. foundations and corporate giving programs have awarded more than $123 million for relief and recovery efforts in the first week following the disastrous earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The figure grows hourly as additional information is collected. A live RSS feed of grants awarded is available at http://maps.foundationcenter.org/japan/rss/.

Meanwhile, preliminary results from an ongoing survey of independent and community foundation CEOs and presidents suggest that about one in five of the surveyed foundations either have made commitments or are considering awarding funds in response to the disaster. Another one in five were uncertain. The survey, which was launched on Wednesday, March 16, had generated 47 responses by late Thursday.

Of ten foundations (out of 47) that told the Foundation Center they expect to provide assistance:

  • four plan to provide only short-term emergency relief;
  • two plan to provide only assistance for mid-term recovery efforts; and
  • four plan to provide assistance throughout the relief, recovery, and rebuilding phases.

Three community foundations either have or intend to establish a fund to receive donations to assist victims of the disaster -- the Aspen Community Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, and the Triangle Community Foundation in Durham, North Carolina. (We're also aware of at least four other community foundations that have established funds: the California Community Foundation, the Columbus Foundation, the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, and the Marquette County Community Foundation.) Many community foundations are likely following the route of the San Francisco Foundation, which noted that while it does not plan to establish a relief fund, "we continue to monitor the need and resources available, and will adapt our response accordingly."

By noon on Friday, the Foundation Center had tracked a total of 89 grants awarded in response to the disaster, ranging in size from $1,000 to $8,6 million. Some of the larger grants include:

  • Fast Retailing USA, Inc. – 2 grants totaling $13.5 million
  • Coca-Cola Company Contributions Program - $7.5 million
  • Prudential Foundation - $6.1 million
  • GE Foundation - $5 million
  • JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. - $5 million
  • Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. - $5 million
  • Dow Chemical Company Foundation - $5 million

Nearly half the grants (47 percent) have been commitments of support for unspecified recipients, to be determined as better information about emerging needs becomes available. Of named recipients, the Red Cross was most frequently mentioned (40 percent of the grants):

Other recipients include CARE USA, GlobalGiving, International Medical Corps, Mercy Corps, Save the Children, and the U.S.-Japan Council.

To date, corporate-sponsored giving, which tends to be first out of the gate during disasters, accounts for more than 90 percent of the giving tracked by the Foundation Center.

The information above was provided by Larry McGill, vice president of research at the Foundation Center.

Rethinking Nuclear Power: A PubHub Reading List

March 15, 2011

(Kyoko Uchida manages PubHub, the Foundation Center's online catalog of foundation-sponsored publications. In her last post, she highlighted several reports that examine how women's roles, both inside and outside the family, are changing.)

With post-quake cooling system failures at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex threatening a potentially large-scale nuclear disaster, some are raising the specter of another Chernobyl, while others are questioning whether nuclear power plants in the United States are safe. Since the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island, nuclear power plant construction in the U.S. has all but stalled. Given rising oil prices and growing climate change fears, however, nuclear power has (re)emerged as an alternative to fossil fuels, especially in energy-starved China. Here are a few reports from our PubHub catalog that explore various aspects of the nuclear energy conundrum.

Common Challenge, Collaborative Response: A Roadmap for U.S.-China Cooperation on Energy and Climate Change (58 pages, PDF), a 2009 report from the Asia Society and the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, outlines the climate change and energy security challenges confronting both nations and proposes a comprehensive program of sustained, high-level collaboration to build low-carbon economies and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. China, as the world knows, has been diversifying its coal-dominated energy supply with nuclear power, hydropower, and renewable energy; indeed, while nuclear power in China comprised just 1 percent of the country's energy mix in 2005, it is on a steady upward trajectory, boosted in part by a 2007 deal in which the U.S. Department of Energy approved an $8 billion contract for the sale to China of four 1,100-megawatt AP-1000 nuclear power plants, to be built between 2009 and 2015.

Ending the Energy Stalemate: A Bipartisan Strategy to Meet America's Energy Challenges (148 pages, PDF), a 2004 report from the Bipartisan Policy Center's National Commission on Energy Policy, provides detailed policy recommendations related to energy independence, climate change, natural gas supplies, the future of nuclear energy, and other long-term energy challenges. At the time of the report's publication, the 103 commercial nuclear power plants operating in the U.S. were responsible for generating about 20 percent of the nation’s electricity, while worldwide some 440 nuclear reactors accounted for about a sixth of the global electricity supply and about half of the carbon-free electricity generation. Funded by the Packard, Energy, MacArthur, and Hewlett foundations as well as the Pew Charitable Trusts, the report calls for expanded use of nuclear energy and includes recommendations in the areas of safety, security, and cost; radioactive waste; and proliferation risks.

The Pew Center on Global Climate Change's U.S. Energy Scenarios for the 21st Century (88 pages, PDF) discusses three divergent paths for U.S. energy supply and use through 2035, as well as the effect of climate policy on energy scenarios in which: 1) abundant supplies of oil and natural gas remain available at low prices; 2) the commercialization of technologies to raise energy efficiency and lower emissions spurs economic growth; 3) the U.S. energy market remains vulnerable and economic growth slows. All three scenarios envision a slight decline in the share of nuclear power, given the high up-front costs for new plants and security concerns. In the third, however, nuclear electric output initially increases as new, smaller, advanced reactor designs are put into service until a terrorist incident deals a blow to public support. 

Needless to say, unchecked proliferation and nuclear terrorism are two of the biggest concerns associated with an increased reliance on nuclear power. The National Academy of Sciences’ 2008 report Internationalization of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Goals, Strategies, and Challenges (160 pages, HTML) presents the recommendations of U.S. and Russian experts vis-a-vis the internationalization of the nuclear fuel cycle, including the provision of nuclear fuel to countries pursuing nuclear as a way of dissuading them from building their own uranium enrichment plants. The report was funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

According to the 2010 PPIC Statewide Survey: Californians & the Environment (36 pages, PDF) from the Public Policy Institute of California, Californians are divided over building more nuclear power plants, with 44 percent in favor of the idea and 49 percent opposed. In terms of political affiliation, the survey found that 57 percent of Democrats were opposed to new plant construction, while 67 percent of Republicans and 51 percent of Independents were in favor.

What do you think? Is the ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan likely to shape our views about the future of nuclear energy? And what are the implications for our energy security as well as alternatives to fossil fuel-dependent power generation?

Our thoughts, of course, are with those who have been affected by the quake and tsunami in Japan, as well as those working to contain and mitigate the nuclear crisis there. For more coverage of the relief and recovery efforts as well as updates on the fast-moving situation, click here.

-- Kyoko Uchida

Weekend Link Roundup (March 12 - 13, 2011)

March 13, 2011

Japan_quake__tusnami Our weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Disaster Relief

The 8.9-magnitude quake that rocked Japan on Friday was the strongest to hit the northern Pacific region in 1,200 years, the Associated Press reports. Although it will take weeks for the total cost of the disaster to be calculated, the U.S. Geological Survey's David Applegate told the AP it's likely to amount to tens of billions of dollars -- and that's assuming Japanese nuclear engineers can get the situation at five damaged nuclear power plants under control.

A number of charities on the ground in Japan have launched relief efforts, with more to follow. For a complete roundup of resources and breaking news related to the tragic and increasingly grave situation, see our Japanese Earthquake & Tsunami Relief page.


In the Nonprofit Quarterly, Joe Kriesberg, president of the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations, argues that social impact bonds, a new innovation that has been touted by the Obama administration and others as a way to "encourage private, profit-motivated investors to fund social programs that work," may "take us in the wrong direction."


It was not a good week for National Public Radio. On Tuesday, right-wing activist James O'Keefe released a video of NPR fundraising executive Ron Schiller and a colleague, Betsy Liley, meeting over lunch with two of O'Keefe's associates posing as members of a fictitious American Muslim group interested in domating $5 million to NPR. On the heavily edited tape, Schiller is heard caviling about Republicans and Tea Partiers, while suggesting that NPR, whose federal budget appropriation was zeroed out by the Republican-controlled House, "would be better off in the long run without federal funding." A day later, NPR chief executive Vivian Schiller (no relation) was forced to resign by the NPR board, which decided that "the [high-profile] controversies under [her] watch had become such a distraction that she could no longer effectively lead the organization."

NPR itself posted some of the best analysis of the debacle, while NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen, on his PressThink blog, suggests that while Schiller and Liley were sandbagged, they -- and anyone else who works in the public media space -- should have seen it coming. Elsewhere, What Would Google Do? author Jeff Jarvis explains on his Buzz Machine blog why the resignation of Schiller "is an indication of more trouble ahead for NPR...."


On Monday, Tactical Philanthropy blogger Sean Stannard-Stockton launched an examination of what he calls the "four core approaches to philanthropy": the charitable giver, the philanthropic investor, the strategic philanthropist, and the social entrepreneur.

Responding to Stannard-Stockton's post, Greater New Orleans Foundation president Albert Ruesga wonders whether it doesn't make more sense to divide "institutional philanthropy into two categories: in the first we put philanthropy that addresses not just a given social ill but also its causes, seeking not only to provide aid for the poor, for example, but to examine why there are so many poor people in the first place. In the second category we put everything else." Adds Ruesga:

The first category, while vanishingly small, contains, in my view, the heart and soul of philanthropy. To do it well requires all the tools of strategic philanthropy; the investor’s focus on strengthening institutions and social movements; and the empathy of the charitable giver....

Last but not least, NCRP's Niki Jagpal suggests, in light of the recent Foundations on the Hill conference, that funders should take the time to "educate lawmakers about the great work that they're doing to ensure that the voices of underserved and marginalized communities are at the table when policy decisions that affect them are being made."

That's it for now. What did we miss? Drop us a line at rnm@foundationcenter.org. And have a great week!

-- Regina Mahone

Japanese Earthquake & Tsunami Relief

Update, Wednesday, March 23 4:30 EDT:

Despite good news that electrical power has been restored to all six reactors at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant as of yesterday, efforts to stabilize the six reactors at the complex continue to hit snags. Earlier today, the New York Times reported that the cooling system at reactor No. 5 -- one of only two reactors at the complex that had been considered under control -- had stopped working. That was on top of problems at reactor No. 2, where elevated radiation levels forced Tokyo Electric Power officials to pull workers from the building housing the reactor, and reactor No.3 -- the only reactor at the complex to use plutonium (mixed with uranium) and therefore the most dangerous -- started belching smoke. In addition, workers at the site were continuing to spray water on reactors Nos. 1 and 2 to keep them from overheating, while TEP officials hoped to have the damaged cooling pumps in reactor No. 4, where spent fuel rods stored on site are the problem, working by Thursday.

Just how much radiation is being released by the damaged reactors -- and pinpointing the exact source of the radiation leaks -- continues to be a source of confusion. The Times reports that elevated levels of radioactivity have been found in eleven types of vegetables in Fukushima Prefecture, causing the Japanese government to suspend shipments of produce from the area. The government has also suspended shipments of raw milk and spinach from neighboring Ibaraki Prefecture. And earlier today the New York Post reported that radioactive iodine 131 has been detected in sea water samples taken from the vicinity of the plant -- the same isotope that has been detected in the Tokyo water supply, prompting officials there to caution residents to keep infants away from tap water. Indeed, concerns about the safety of the public water supply has caused a run on bottled water in the greater Tokyo area.

According to the National Policy Agency, the official death toll as of Wednesday afternoon was 9,301, with 13,786 people reported missing. Meanwhile, the American Red Cross was reporting that 365,000 people were still living in its shelters.

On Monday, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that Americans had donated $136 million to relief and recovery efforts in Japan (up from $105 million on Friday), while earlier today the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported that 222 U.S.-based companies, multinational corporations, and foreign companies had made cash and/or in-kind contributions totaling more than $200.8 million. The chamber also reported that 157 of those businesses (representing $156 million in aid ) were U.S.-based companies, while at least 72 companies had pledged $1 million or more in cash and/or in-kind assistance.

The Foundation Center has created a "Japan Relief RSS feed that displays real-time grant data reported by U.S.-based grantmakers. To subscribe, click here.


Update, March 18, 4:00 EDT: We've posted the preliminary results of a Foundation Center survey of CEOs and EDs at independent and community foundations. So far, about one in five of the surveyed foundations either have made a commitment or are considering awarding funds in reponse to the multiple disasters in Japan.

Of the ten foundations (out of 47) that told the Foundation Center they expect to provide assistance:

  • four plan to provide only short-term emergency relief;
  • two plan to provide only assistance for mid-term recovery efforts; and
  • four plan to provide assistance throughout the relief, recovery, and rebuilding phases.

More here.

Update, March 18, 10:45 EDT:  The official death toll continues to climb and now stands at 6,539. Another 10,354 people are missing, 2,513 have been injured, and 382,613 people have been evacuated (via Bloomberg.)

As of 10:00 a.m. EDT, corporate contributions to relief efforts exceeded $158 million (via U.S. Chamber of Commerce).


Update, March 17, 8:30 EDT: As news out of Japan over the last twenty-four hours has slowed, confusion about what is happening at the Fukushima nuclear plant has grown. The Japanese and U.S. governments seem to have agreed to disagree over radiation levels above and around the plant, Japanese officials are trying to cool the damaged reactors with water cannons and helicopter water drops, and the status of spent fuel rods stored on site (in multiple reactors) continues to be an area of urgent concern. For a quick overview, check out this BBC clip posted earlier this evening (h/t The Big Picture).


Even though radioactivity levels in Tokyo are "well within safe limits," the city, as this CNN dispatch suggests, is becoming a ghost town.

Corporate giving in the wake of the multiple disasters has been robust and totaled $137 million as of Thursday morning, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Corporate Aid Tracker.

And earlier this afternoon the Chronicle of Philanthopy reported that, six days after the quake and tsunami, American donors had contributed $87 million to relief efforts. That compares to the $210 million and $457 million, respectively, contributed six days after the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.


Update, March 16, 11:50 EDT: More developments at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex, none of them good, since our update yesterday. On Al Jazeera, a Russian nuclear expert was quoted as saying the "Situation...is developing according to a worst-case scenario," while the French government has accused Japanese officials of hiding the severity of the situation and is urging French nationals in Tokyo, about a hundred and sixty miles south of the crippled plant, to leave the country or evacuate to locations further south.

Here's what we do know. Following explosions at the plant's No. 1 reactor on Saturday and No. 3 reactor on Monday, a fire broke at reactor No. 4, which had been shut down for maintenance before the quake, early Tuesday morning. An explosion followed a few hours later, damaging the reactor's outer wall and exposing a cooling pool holding spent fuel rods to the air. Radiation levels in the immediate vicinity spiked and were elevated as far away as Tokyo, but fell back after the fire was extinguished in the afternoon. Nevertheless, Tokyo Electric Power, the plant's operator, pulled 750 of its employees from the site, leaving fifty to try to get the deteriorating situation under control, while the Japanese government ordered residents within an eighteen-mile radius of the plant (about 140,000 people) to stay indoors and keep their windows shut.

Early Wednesday morning, temperatures in the spent fuel pools at reactors No. 5 and No. 6 reactors, which occupy a different part of the complex, began to rise. Then, the already grave situation appeared to take a turn for the worse when the country's chief cabinet secretary reported that reactor No. 3 -- the only reactor at the complex to use plutonium, a dangerously lethal element -- was venting steam. In the same press conference, the cabinet secretary stated that the chances of the reactor's containment vessel, a critical link in the fail-safe chain, having suffered damage was "low" and that Tokyo Power had sent an additional workers into the plant to battle the crisis. Earlier attempts to use helicopters to dump seawater on the damaged reactors to cool them were aborted after it was determined that radiation levels above the plant were too high.

This schematic, courtesy of the UK-based Mail, does a nice job of sorting out the often-confusing sequence of events since Saturday:


In related news, the death toll from the multiple disasters continues to rise and has now passed 4,300. Thousands of people are still missing -- 18,000 from the village of Rikzentakata alone -- 450,000 people are living in shelters, and one million people are living without heat or electricity.

Earlier this morning, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that Americans had donated $47 million to disaster relief efforts -- about a third of the amount raised/pledged in the first four days after the devastating earthquake in Haiti and about the same as was raised over the first four days for victims of the 2004 Asian tsunami. Goldman Sachs had a note out this morning in which it estimated total damages from the quake/tsunami/nuclear crisis at $198 billion.

Our colleagues here at the Foundation Center have created a Japan Relief Grants RSS feed that can be accessed at the CrisisCommons wiki or directly, here. We'll be posting the feed to its own page the blog later this afternoon.


Fukushima_power_station Update, March 15, 10:50 EDT: It's 11:50 p.m. in Japan, and the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex has gone from bad to worse. Early this morning (Japan time), an explosion at the plant's No. 2 reactor -- the reactor Tokyo Electric Power officials had been most worried about -- "almost certainly damaged the reactor's containment vessel, raising the prospect of a full meltdown of the nuclear fuel inside," the New York Times reports. A few hours later, fire broke out at the plant's No. 4 reactor, which was being refurbished before the quake and tsunami struck. With the plant's cooling systems compromised by the quake, the fear now is that spent fuel rods in a cooling pool on the reactor's top floor could overheat and catch fire, releasing clouds of radioactive material into the atmosphere. Indeed, radiation levels in the immediate vicinity of the plant spiked after the most recent explosion at the complex (although they since appear to have fallen back from their highest levels). According to experts, the worst-case scenario -- that the spent rods in the cooling pool catch fire, leading to a massive release of radiation into the atmosphere -- is days, if not weeks, away. Should the situation deteriorate further, however, one would expect to see mass evacuations of the surrounding region to begin.

The official death toll from the quake and tsunami now stands at 2,475. But with reports of thousands of bodies washing up on coastlines in Miyagi Prefecture and other hard-hit areas, it is almost certain to climb higher (maybe much higher) than the 10,000 figure cited by Japanese officials over the weekend. The Times reports that as many as 350,000 have been left homeless. On Monday, the U.S. Geological Survey revised its estimate of the quake's power from 8.9 to 9.0 on the Richter scale.

Uncertainty and the very real possibility of a full-scale meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi complex have rattled financial markets in Tokyo. The Nikkei, the Japanese equiavlent of the Dow Jones stock index, closed on Tuesday having suffered its worst two-day loss since 1987 and is down 20 percent since Friday.


Update, March 14, 4:30 EDT: The New York Times is reporting that efforts to cool the core of the No. 2 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex failed late Monday (Japan time), increasing the odds of a partial or complete meltdown of the reactor's fuel rods, an explosion of the reactor's containment vessel, and/or "a potentially catastrophic release of dioactive material into the atmosphere." Over the weekend, officials of Tokyo Electric Power (which operates the complex) struggled to prevent a total meltdown of the station's No.1  and No. 3 reactors and for the moment seem to have succeeded, though not before the outer structures surrounding both reactors exploded (No. 1 on Saturday and a partial explosion of the structure housing reactor No.3 early Monday). Both reactor cores remain covered with seawater, and radiation levels around the plant are said to be close to normal. All eyes are now glued to events unfolding at the plant's No. 2 reactor....


Here's our original post from Sunday...

Japanese-tsunami-hitting-shore- The violent 8.9-magnitude quake that struck Japan on Friday, triggering a massive tsunami that devastated large swaths of the country's northeast coast, has plunged the island nation into its worst crisis since World War II. While the number of confirmed deaths has climbed past 1,300, tens of thousands of residents of coastal villages in Miyagi prefecture, the area closest to the quake's epicenter, are unaccounted for, and Japanese authorities are fearful the final death toll could hit 10,000. Hundreds of thousands more are into their third day without water, heat, or electricity.

(Click here for incredible composite before-and-after satellite images of the region put together by the interactive graphics team at the New York Times.)

The mind-numbing devastation has been excerbated by damage to a handful of nuclear power plants north of Tokyo, resulting in what appears to be a partial meltdown of two reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and cooling problems at four other reactors at two separate plants (New York Times). The grave situation has prompted the evacuation of more than 200,000 people from areas around the plants, and it is anyone's guess when the reactor cores will be brought under control -- or local residents allowed to return to their homes.

Over the last forty-eight hours, a number of mobile text campaigns have been launched to facilitate donations to quake and tsunami relief efforts:

(Joanne Fritz has a good post on her About.com blog about things to watch out for when texting a donation.)

Resource pages also have popped up on a number of Web sites:

Donors and grantmakers considering a more substantive reponse will want to consider the advice on Schimmelpfennig's blog or the GiveWell site, and/or may want to browse the short checklist developed by the Raqim Foundation and Philanthropy Now.

It may be days, even weeks, before the enormity of what happened to Japan on Friday is apparent. While the country, one of the wealthiest and most technologically advanced in the world, is in a better position to recover from this disaster than most, it's clear it will need -- and welcomes -- the help of the world community.

We'll continue to track developments as they unfold. In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers are with the Japanese people.

(Photo credit: Kyodo / Xinhua Press-Corbis)

Quote of the Week

  • "[L]et me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance...."

    — Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States

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