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4 Months After Quake, Tsunami: Aid Response Slow

Published On: Jul 11 2011 10:48:19 PM HST
Updated On: Jul 11 2011 08:39:44 PM HST
HONOLULU -

The American Red Cross said 90 percent of the $245 million raised for the Japan Relief Drive has already been transferred to that country, including money raised in Hawaii.

In Japan there are signs of hope. Several couples who survived the disaster marked the anniversary with a wedding.

But others are still waiting for the help they desperately need.

So far, 15,000 died in the quake and tsunami, 5,000 more are reported missing.

The American Red Cross donated $35 million day raising the total of relief aid to $245 million.

But criticism is growing in Japan about the slow response to deliver the aid to the hardest hit areas.

Honolulu resident Kirby Fukunaga has been to Japan three times since the quake. He knows first hand that the needs of so many families are not being met.

"I'm frustrated, but I am going to do what I can do. We are a small group, but we are trying to get anything -- as much as possible," Fukunaga said.

His grassroots group of volunteers is firm in its belief of direct hand-to-hand help. In the initial weeks following the natural disaster, he delivered food and supplies to coastal towns. Fukunaga plans to return Sendai next week.

"We are going to try and organize some playgrounds and we have some donations from some schools, Hokulani School," Fukunaga said.

Other Hawaii groups like the Aloha Initiative said they are trying to stay focused on the programs they have started, like the Home Stay Program bringing victims to Hawaii to recharge their spirits.

The Japanese government faults the poor distribution system in hard hit areas as the reason for the delay getting money to the survivors.

"I really hope that all that hard-earned money that people put to the relief in Japan effort really gets there, because they really need it. They really need it," Fukunaga said.

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