Gregoire highlights $25M Washington-Japan relief effort

Gov. Chris Gregoire highlighted the close ties between Washington state and Japan and the success of the Washington state-Japan Relief Effort during The Japan-America Society of the State of Washington’s annual dinner at the Bell Harbor Conference Center Tuesday night.

“Since the disaster, Washington residents and businesses have donated more than $25 million in cash and assistance to help the people of Japan recover from this disaster,” Gregoire said. “I want to express my sincere gratitude to companies and individuals who gave what they could to help our family members, friends and others in Japan.”

In the week after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, Washington businesses and residents donated $7 million in cash and assistance to disaster relief. When Gregoire launched the effort, she challenged the state’s residents and businesses to give another $7 million to disaster relief. In the subsequent three weeks, Washington businesses and individuals far exceeded the governor’s goal by donating $18 million more in cash and assistance.

“The people of Japan and Washington state are bound by friendship, economic interests and cultural ties,” Gregoire said. “Recovery from this tragedy will take years, yet I know the strength and resiliency of the Japanese people will triumph over any challenge.”

Washington’s economic and cultural ties with Japan are strong. Japan is Washington’s third-largest export market, with the state importing $14 billion in trade from the nation. Three dozen Washington cities have sister cities in Japan. The Hyogo Prefecture is Washington’s sister state.