In the wake of the disastrous Japanese earthquake and subsequent Pacific Ocean tsunami, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is collecting funds for relief efforts and has reached out to the Japanese Government to offer its expertise in earthquake and tsunami-related response. JDC acquired substantial experience in post-tsunami and earthquake recovery through its relief and reconstruction projects in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Maldives and India following the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004. JDC is now conducting an up-to-the-minute assessment of the situation in Japan and the Pacific Rim and has activated its network of partners to determine critical, immediate needs of the hardest-hit areas.

“Our prayers and sympathies go out to the families of those lost in the earthquake in Japan and as we have before in Haiti and in nations struck by the Indian Ocean Tsunami, JDC will leverage its disaster relief expertise and strong partnerships in the region to react swiftly and sympathetically to the needs of victims,” said Steven Schwager, JDC’s Chief Executive Officer.

The 8.9 earthquake, the most powerful to hit Japan in more than 100 years, has killed hundreds of people and caused untold damage through massive flooding across the island. JDC worked in Japan before the American entrance into World War II when the organization helped support Jewish refugees—including renowned religious leaders and yeshiva scholars—in Kobe, Japan who fled Hitler’s Europe. Today, several thousand Jews live and work in Japan.

JDC’s non-sectarian disaster relief programs are funded by special appeals of the Jewish Federations of North America and tens of thousands of individual donors to JDC. JDC coordinates its disaster relief activities with the U.S. Department of State, USAID, Interaction, the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Israeli relief agencies, and the United Nations. JDC has provided immediate relief and long-term assistance to victims of natural and manmade disasters around the globe and continues to operate programs designed to rebuild infrastructure and community life in disaster-stricken regions.