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Japanese Americans Living in Mississippi React to the Disaster Back in Their Home Country

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 15 Mar 2011 05:39pm | comments
devastation continues to unfold from Japans killer earthquake and tsunami

Japanese Americans living in Mississippi are closely watching the devastation unfold from Japans killer earthquake and tsunami. MPB's Lawayne Childrey spoke with two of those families and has this report.

The Demura family owns what is thought to be the first authentic Japanese restaurant in Mississippi. As they watch the events in Japan unfold on TV from their Little Tokyo Restaurant in Ridgeland, 21 year old Okiyo says they remain prayerful for their friends and family back in Japan. But she says they are also thankful for their new friends in Mississippi.

"My mom, you know, she's been here for a while and one of the things she always says about the people in Mississippi is that they are so kind hearted. And when the earthquake happened she was at Kroger, one of the ladies, who works at the cash register she was saying we were really praying for you and your country. And ah she was so touched by that."

While Okiyos family graciously receives the comfort of strangers, she says her thoughts have been with a friend who couldn't reach her family that lives near the disaster area.

"And she was very, very worried that you know her home was washed away by the tsunami or it was totally demolished by the earthquake but uh, she was finally able to get in contact with them but it was very terrifying for her."

"The Japanese people are a very collective community and so they all feel each other’s pain an so she is grieving with them."

That’s Jennifer Welch of Jackson talking about her 81 year old grandmother who now lives in Mississippi but grew up in Japan during World War 2.

"Their lost is her lost so she has internalized their pain and their suffering so we are just trying to support each other through this."

Welch also says Japans devastation reminds her of what happened to Mississippi during Hurricane Katrina.

"There's a since that I cannot be fully happy knowing that this happening in the world so when I see the images I can empathize with them."

Members of the Japanese community in Mississippi say they hope this disaster will transform the nation into a new and even better Japan. Lawayne Childrey MPB News. 

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devastation continues to unfold from Japans killer earthquake and tsunami


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