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Scholastic Kids Press Corps
The Scholastic Kids Press Corps is a team of about 50 Kid Reporters around the nation.  The interactive site brings daily news to life with reporting for kids, by kids.
kid reporter artur zigman with people whose relatives were in japan Kid Reporter Artur Zigman spoke to (from left) Yukkiko Murakami, Ryoko Akiba, and Yoko Nishimoto about their friends and relatives who live in Japan and suffered through the earthquake and tsunami. (Photo courtesy Artur Zigman)

Earthquake Stories from Texas

Houston residents from Japan report on family from home

By Artur Zigman | April 1 , 2011

For a group of people in Houston, Texas, the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Japan on March 11 was close to home.

"I lived in Japan for a long time before moving to the U.S.," said Yoko Nishimoto, who is originally from Okinawa. "I have never seen an earthquake like this."

Nishimoto owns a business in Houston. She teaches people about doing business and communicating with Japan and has lived in the U.S. for over 20 years.

"When I first heard about the earthquake I felt horrible," she told the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps. "I was devastated, and that night I could not fall asleep. I was so worried about my family in Japan because I was not able to contact them over the phone or Internet."

Nishimoto's three sisters live in Chiba, a city near the capital of Tokyo. They survived the quake.

"They don't talk much about Chiba in the news, but there is lots of damage in Chiba," says Nishimoto.

The sisters still feel the effects of the massive damage. They have no drinking water or groceries. Gasoline for cars is also in very short supply. Electricity is only available at certain hours.

"Japanese people are very patient and don't complain much," says Nishimoto. "They always hope for the best and never panic. They keep coming to their work places every day, even if they have to walk there."

Ryoko Akiba has lived in the U.S. for almost five years. Her children still live in Japan in Yokohama. They work in Tokyo. She tried calling her kids the morning of the earthquake, but kept getting a busy signal. Later that evening, though, she received an email from them.

"My son is 28 years old and he works in Tokyo, so when the earthquake hit, he was in the subway," Akiba said, nearly in tears. "He described to me the power of the shake, and how scared he was. After it was over, he had to walk for two hours to get home."

Most companies in Japan are open and working on normal schedules, even though people still have to walk to work.

"My daughter told me that some of her friend's parents live in the area most affected by the tsunami," Akiba said. "But it is hard to tell if they are alive because there is no way to contact them, there is no communication. I am so thankful that my kids are OK."

The earthquake and tsunami has affected every student in Japan, even those who live outside the devastation. April and May are when students take entrance exams to the next grade. It is also when the new school year starts. Most of the exams have been canceled or postponed now.

"I really want kids in the U.S. to appreciate what they have and value life," Nishimoto said. "I hope everyone learns to love life from this terrifying experience."

EARTHQUAKE IN JAPAN

A magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck northeast Japan on Friday, March 11, causing a destructive tsunami that reached the west coast of the United States. Scholastic News Kid Reporters are collecting information about the quake and its aftermath and talking to people who have family and friends in Japan and looking into how kids can help with relief efforts. Find their stories in the Earthquake in Japan Special Report.

NEWS FOR KIDS, BY KIDS

Get the latest on national and international events, movies, television, music, sports, and more from the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.

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