Japan roots prompt Ann Arbor area companies to raise funds for tsunami relief
For Ann Arbor Township-based fiber laser research firm IMRA America Inc., raising money for disaster relief isn't just about having corporate roots in Japan.
It's part of a corporate social responsibility the firm tries to uphold, said IMRA America President Takashi Omitsu.
In the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands and caused billions of dollars of damage in Japan, IMRA told its 70 local employees that it would match their donations to the Japanese Red Cross.
The firm — whose corporate parent, automotive supplier Aisin Seiki Co., is based in Japan — is one of several Ann Arbor-area companies that are mobilizing to raise funds to help with disaster relief. The company donated $20,000 upfront to the Red Cross and sent out letters to its corporate partners encouraging them to donate.
Lon Horwedel | AnnArbor.com file
"We value the mind and will to help the people who are being suffered by this type of thing. I really see this as an important core of the company," Omitsu said. "Our company exists because society exists, so if society is crushed by this type of thing, we should do something about it."
Employees gave $8,000, and IMRA matched it, representing a total donation of about $36,000, Omitsu said.
Although the Toyota Technical Center, which employs about 1,100 workers in York Township and Ann Arbor Township, was not directly affected by the natural disaster, workers' donations to the Japanese Red Cross are being matched.
Toyota donated about $3.75 million to the Japan Red Cross in addition to matching employee contributions.
"That could be a substantial amount to be determined yet," said Bruce Brownlee, senior executive administrator for external affairs at the Toyota Technical Center. "We’ve also provided trucks, blankets and supplies to the areas that have been impacted by the earthquake and tsunami."
The philanthropic activity is not limited to the region's big players. Ann Arbor's Quest Martial Arts is selling T-shirts with martial arts packages to raise money for the U.S.-Japan Council Earthquake Relief Fund, said program director Clayton Macy.
Macy said the studio so far has sold nearly 200 packages, which include the T-shirt, an introductory martial arts session, six weeks of free martial arts classes and a free uniform.
"We're trying to raise as much money as we can to send over to Japan," he said. "We're really excited to do as much as we can to help that cause."
Macy said Quest Martial Arts feels an especially tight connection to Japan since its form of martial arts, called ninjutsu, came out of Japan. The studio's owner, Keith Copeland, visited Japan earlier this year and earned his fifth-degree black belt.
"We really do tie into that culture and that heritage," Macy said. "There’s a lot of burden and sorrow that comes along with what’s out there."