"Save Japan" Initiative At SXSW 2011 (And How You Can Help Without Being There)

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I am currently in Austin at SXSW 2011, but mentally absent: I was at Tokyo airport on Friday to fly off to Texas, on my way to the gate, when the earthquake hit Japan (where I am based). As everybody knows by now, the quake marked the biggest disaster in Japan’s history after WWII, leaving thousands of people dead, wounded or homeless. After 6 years of living in Japan and being there when it happened, I, too, am devastated.

The Japan delegation for SXSW Interactive consists of about 10 people, and in the light of what was and still is happening in their home country, everybody toughed it out, took part in their panels and did a great job. (I know because I got a ticket at a later date and luckily was able to moderate two panels related to Japanese tech and speak at another one. I was too late to attend the first Japan panel.)

One of the speakers, Takahito Iguchi from Tonchidot (the company behind mobile app DOMO), says that the idea was to show the world that Japan won’t give up in the light of the disaster and to send a signal of encouragement back home. And what’s more, literally all of the speakers’ companies quickly reacted and started to collect donations for the victims of the disaster.

Just a few examples:
Iguchi and another SXSW speaker, Ryo Shimizu (CEO of Tokyo-based tech company Ubiquitous Entertainment) decided to not leave SXSW after their panels but rather cooperate with the event organizers to collect donations from attendees – who thankfully donated thousands of dollars so far (here is Shimizu’s very personal blog post about the earthquake and SXSW 2011 for the Japanese delegates).

Eiji Araki from GREE, Japan’s mobile social gaming juggernaut, says users of his platform donated over $2 million so far by buying special virtual items. That’s about the same number another SXSW panelist, Tak Miyata from Mixi (Japan’s largest real-identity social network) is reporting at this point. (More information on Japan’s SXSW delegation and their efforts to “save Japan” can be found in this article in the New York Times).

These are pretty impressive efforts, but if you now ask yourself how you can help Japan, here is a quick list of links to make it easy:

You can find a larger list of earthquake relief options here.