The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

When Taylor Anderson was a little girl, she saw the famous Miyazaki animation My Neighbor Totoro and fell in love with Japan. She studied Japanese and aspired to become a teacher with the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme. This she did, and after two years of teaching in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, she extended her stay. Then the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11 struck. Anderson died protecting her students. She was the first confirmed American casualty.

Helping Taylor’s family continue her dream is former Japanese ambassador to the US, Ichiro Fujisaki. The Journal sat down with Fujisaki to learn why he feels passionate about preserving Taylor’s memory and how he came to be involved. Telling the story of the days and weeks following the disasters, the ambassador-turned-teacher recounts how he went to Dulles Airport in Washington to meet Taylor’s family when her remains were returned to the US. “After the disaster, Taylor’s father and mother were dismayed,” Fujisaki explains.

“They knew that their daughter would not want them to cry and be sad for the rest of their lives. They had to remain positive. Taylor wanted to be a bridge between Japan and the United States.” So they decided to carry her torch and continue to have a positive impact.

In 2014, after being US-based since March 2011, the Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund was officially established as a Japanese non-profit organization. Fujisaki and Taylor’s father, Andy, serve as co-presidents. Taylor’s mother, Jean, is on the board of directors.

The fund already supports a wide range of programs, including one that grew from her parents’ original idea to create a library: Taylor’s Reading Corners, installed in schools in Ishinomaki.

In addition, the fund helps sustain numerous initiatives in Ishinomaki, and also gives to small non-governmental organizations that don’t have access to big companies.

Aside from this fund, from 2011 to 2015 the ACCJ, through the Community Service Advisory Council (CSAC), donated ¥96 million to the following charities, as well as to others that have supported initiatives including the Tohoku recovery effort, children’s causes, women’s issues, and the ACCJ Mike Makino Fund for the Homeless. CSAC would like ACCJ members to see the breadth of the chamber’s support for the needs of the community and provide interested members an opportunity to get involved with the charities that the chamber has supported.

A Dream A Day in Tokyo Provides facilities for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families
Foundation for Global Children Assists in the development and well-being of children
Franciscan Chapel Center Rice Program Makes and delivers rice balls to the homeless in Shibuya Ward
Fukushima Prefectural Board of Education Administers public schools in Fukushima Prefecture
Futaba Gakuen Operates schools for neglected children
Global Education Foundation Provides support for low-income children participating in the IB program
Health and Global Policy Institute Aims to promote a Global Citizen Nation
Japan Association for Refugees Assists refugees in Japan
JKSK (Empowering Women Empowering Society) Nurtures and supports women leadership
Kodomo-no-Uchi Yasaka-Ryo Provides a home for orphans
Lighthouse Japan Assists victims of human trafficking
Living Dreams Provides access to technology to orphans
Minato Council of Social Welfare (COSW) Plans and organizes social welfare projects in Minato Ward
MIT Japan 3/11 Initative Provides a mechanism for the study and implementation of disaster resilience planning
N.P.O. SANYUKAI Operates a free medical clinic for day laborers and the homeless
Nadia for Ishinomaki Participates in disaster recovery, gives opportunities to children in disaster areas
Nonohana no Ie (Wildflower House) Provides a home for orphans
O.G.A. for AID Provides support for disaster survivors
Organization to Stop the Collapse of Perinatal Care Spreads awareness of prenatal care and supports families that have suffered maternal mortality
Room to Read Japan Focuses on literacy and gender equality in education
Shine On! Kids Provides support for children with cancer and other serious illnesses
Smiles and Dreams Supports orphanges affected by the 3/11 disaster
Smiling Hospital Japan Provides entertainment to hospitalized children
SOS Kodomo-no-mura Provides a home for orphans
TELL Provides support and counseling services to Japan’s international community
The Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund Helps students, schools, and families in the Ishinomaki area
Tokyo Shure Provides schooling in an unrestricted environment
Tokyo Union Church—Mission for Our Homeless Neighbor Makes and delivers rice balls to the homeless in Shibuya Ward
YMCA-ACCJ Ohisama Camp for Challenged Children Runs an annual summer camp for challenged children

* This table covers charities supported by the Tokyo chapter.

Christopher Bryan Jones is Editor-in-chief of The Journal. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, he has lived in Japan since 1997.
Taylor Anderson was the first confirmed American casualty of the March 11 disasters. She died protecting her students.