Two checks totaling $30,000 from the University of Incarnate Word (UIW) and a group called the Compadres & Comadre of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas were presented to the Kumamoto Earthquake Relief fundraising campaign during a Tuesday evening ceremony that celebrated the strong relationship between the two cities and welcomed Japanese Consul General Tetsuro Amano to San Antonio.
The $20,000 from Toyota Compadres and Compadre, a group of five Toyota suppliers, and $10,000 from UIW put the total fund for San Antonio’s sister city Kumamoto at more than $80,000, not far from its $100,000 goal. There are three months left for the fundraising effort.
Alvin Wallace, the interim president of the Japan-America Society of San Antonio (JASSA) who organized the fundraiser, told the audience at the reception that the $100,000 goal set by former Mayor and leading committee member Henry Cisneros may not be big enough anymore.
“After the two generous donations that were announced tonight, we might have to reach out to the honorable Henry Cisneros and suggest he up our goal so that we have something that will challenge us, because if people keep giving as generously, we are just going to (achieve our goal) too soon,” he said.
The reception, which took place at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, hosted about 150 diplomats including the Consul General of Mexico Héctor Velasco Monroy, Mayor Ivy Taylor, City Manager Sheryl Sculley, Bexar County Judge Peter Sakai, several City Council members, as well as invited guests from the public and private sector. The event was hosted by the City of San Antonio, JASSA, and San Antonio Economic Development Foundation.
Amano thanked the people and organizations of San Antonio for the generous donation they continue to send to Kumamoto following the two deadly earthquakes that struck the city in April.
The two quakes measured 6.4 and 7.3, killing 49 citizens, injuring more than 3,000, and forcing 44,000 to evacuate their homes.
More than 1,000 aftershocks hit the city following the earthquakes, damaging infrastructure, historic sites, homes, and businesses.
The Relief Fund sent about $35,000 to Kumamoto at the end of June which will go toward helping the families affected by the tragedy. Wallace said the remaining funds collected between the end of June and November will help rebuild infrastructure and the Kumamoto Castle. To donate, click here and join the extensive list of public and private entities and individuals supporting Kumamoto.
Kumamoto T-shirts, designed by local artist Amanda Silva, were on sale during the reception as guests were offered sushi and other hors d’oeuvres while various speakers took turns at the lectern.
Mayor Ivy Taylor spoke first, citing examples of Japanese ingenuity in San Antonio, such as the tunnel beneath the Pearl which was built by a Japanese corporation, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas, JASSA, the Texas-Japan office in Tokyo, and the city’s vibrant Japanese expatriate community.
“I say all of this to the consul general and his wife so they know the importance Japan holds in our hearts and understand the warmth of our welcome,” she said. “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu (We look forward to working together).”
Amano, who resides in Houston and has been the Consul General of Japan since January, said the people of Kumamoto are very grateful for the fundraising efforts San Antonio has made so far.
“The donations for the casualties (from) the Kumamoto earthquake are very much appreciated by the Kumamoto people,” he told the Rivard Report. “In Japan, we have a very famous proverb – ‘A friend in need is a friend indeed’ – and the people of Kumamoto feel that very much.”
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Toyota donated $20,000 Tuesday evening at the reception. The true donors were the Compadres and Comadre of Toyota Texas Motor Manufacturing, a group of five Toyota suppliers: Fernando Reyes, Frank Herrer, Max Navarro, Heriberto “Berto” Guerra Jr. and Rosa Santana. The article has been updated to reflect the change.
Top image: Japanese Consul General Tetsuro Amano addresses the crowd and discusses the funding effort for Kumamoto. Photo by Scott Ball.