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Skilled Merseysiders urged to help ease pain of Japanese earthquake.

Byline: Matt Hurst

LIVERPOOL academics, particularly those with language skills, are being sought to offer assistance as Japan copes with the aftermath of the biggest earthquake to hit the country since 1923.

An aftershock measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale hit yesterday morning causing further devastation along a coastline already wracked by the tsunami that followed Friday's quake.

And while the response to most recent natural catastrophes, in Haiti or Pakistan, has been to set up disaster emergency funds, a Liverpool based Japanese linguistics expert says the same doesn't necessarily apply in this case.

Angela Davies, who lives in Childwall, is vice-chairman of the Japan Society North West.

She said: "Japan is unique in that it is not a developing country so it doesn't necessarily need the kind of finances requested when there's a tragedy in another part of the world where there may not be so much money."

Organisations such as the Red Cross and Save the Children are asking for donations but Angela says individuals who may have skills to offer could be of far greater value.

Angela, whose son, Sam Rosen was in Tokyo when the quake struck, said: "The thing people need is to be able to get access to those people who are trapped so engineers, and particularly structural engineers, would be very useful.

"Japanese Interpreters is a group with individuals based all around the UK and many of them have gone to volunteer as interpreters.

"For example the UK has got people out there, like firefighters, working with firefighters from Japan.

"People doing the same job are usually able to communicate, even without language, but in certain circumstances an interpreter might be needed and could be crucial."

And such is the multi-national nature of both Japan and the rescue effort that language demands are not restricted to an understanding of Japanese.

A request has been circulated among the linguistics community for speakers of Chinese, Korean, Spanish and Portuguese as well as Japanese and English.

An organisation called Translators Without Frontiers is coordinating the appeal.

On the ground, Angela says her son Sam, who has now escaped Tokyo for the relative safety of Osaka, believes most people's concerns are now directed at the country's faltering nuclear power plants.

So far around 140,000 people have been evacuated from within a 13 mile radius of the plant 150 miles from Tokyo and with few other natural resources much of Japan's electricity supply is nuclear based.

But Angela Davies says the Japanese spirit will endure.

She added: "The Japanese people have got a wonderful way of coping with disaster.

"They don't stand there saying my house has fallen down - you won't see any of that on television.

"They are very contained and very stoic, which is admirable."


An elderly woman is carried through a hospital lobby packed with injured citizens in Ishinomaki A British rescue team sort their equipment as they arrive at the Misawa US air force base Sam Rosen who lives in Japan and, top, his mother Angela Davies A man whose house was swept away by Friday''s tsunami stands in the rubble in Minamisanriku town
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Mar 14, 2011
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