The earthquake disaster that hit Japan in March 2011 and killed more than 18,000 people also caused a horrendous tsunami and the meltdown of several nuclear reactors of the power plant in Fukushima. The devastating tsunami caused a gigantic tonnage (more than four million) of debris to be washed into the Pacific Ocean.

Not all the debris has been sinking to the bottom of the ocean, almost 30 percent of it has reached the Canadian shoreline since it left Japan. In total, some 1.5 million tons of debris wound up at the coast of B.C. and though this is less than earlier anticipated, there still are lots of things such as large storage tanks, motorcycle, and fishing boats washing up on the Canadian shores. The Japanese government has been very cooperative to help deal with cleaning up the tsunami debris in Canada, and the country already contributed over CAN$1 million to the Canadian authorities in their efforts to clean up the mess.

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The Japan Love Project started out as a volunteer project to help Japan on the road to recovery after the devastating 2011 earthquake. The project is for the major part based on student involvement and is set up in close cooperation with B.C JERF. So far, the Canadian Japan Love Project has raised already a total of almost CAN$330,000 via street collections and gifts at several donation boxes throughout Vancouver. Nowadays, the Japan Love Project is continuing to demonstrate gratitude to all the people who came to help Japan during the reconstruction period following the disaster.

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How did the Japan Love Project start:

At the time of the disaster in 2011, Hiroki Takai, a Japanese student at a Vancouver university, decided to start a campaign to help his countrymen in Japan, and he began to raise money to support the clean-up efforts in his homeland together with a few other Japanese students. He felt he needed to take action rather than sitting around doing nothing and feeling helpless while looking at a continuous flow of images of destruction and suffering that came to us after the horrendous Tohoku Earthquake and consecutive tsunami. The great efforts of these Japanese students, and the fantastic generosity of the Vancouver residents resulted in that the Japan Love Project was able to raise nearly CAN$330,000 so far. A great effort!

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On the third anniversary of the devastating Tohoku Earthquake and tsunami, Hiroki Takai wanted to show his gratitude for the kindness and generosity of the Vancouver people, and he arranged that a team of the International Volunteer University Student Association and volunteers from other community colleges and GED schools came over to the Canadian West Coast to support the Canadians with their ongoing efforts to clean up the even today still growing amount of debris that’s still  washing up on Canada’s shores. This resulted in the help of a 70-piece student crew that came over to support the Canadians, and this group of students was headed by Yusuke Oike, a student from Ritsumeikan University.

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The first thing these students did was remove more than 10 tons of debris from Vancouver Island’s beaches in the week from from 7 to 14 March, 2014, and though 10 tons may sounds like quite a bit, it is just a tiny fraction compared to the more than the 1.5 million tons of waste that the Canadian Ministry of the Environment estimates to be afloat in the Pacific Ocean near Canada as a result of the 2011 disasters. The Japanese students also managed to salvage a few sentimental items that had survived the long ocean trip to the Canadian shores, and the owners were delighted that they were returned.

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There was also a memorial ceremony at Ucluelet’s Big Beach in recognition of the anniversary of March 2011 Earthquake and tsunami that hurt Japan so badly. At the ceremony, Ucluelet was welcoming more than 70 Japanese students who assisted in the clean-up campaign initiated by the IVUSA (the International Volunteer University Student Association). This group of courageous students worked closely together with Hiroki Takai’s Japan Love Project to be able to clean up the massive amount of tsunami debris that has washed on to Ucluelet’s and surrounding beaches.

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Vancouver Island, and Ucluelet in particular, received special funding to deal with cleaning up all the debris and waste that had washed ashore after the Earthquake and massive tsunami that struck Japan in 2011. This year, Ucluelet has received more than CAN$80,000 in contributions for the Ucluelet & Barkley Sound Shoreline Cleanup Program. This program covers an area of more than 60 miles area including parts of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, Ucluelet, and Yuulu’il’ath territory. We want to keep the Japan Love Project’s memory alive, even though there have been no recent activities. For additional or future Japan Love Project activities or events, and how you can make donations to help Japan recover from the terrible 2011 disaster, please click below.

According to reuters.com Japanese tsunami debris still washing on U.S. shore