Japan and the Earthquake of 2011

On March 11, 2011, Japan was hit with a powerful 9.0-magnitude earthquake, a devastating subsequent tsunami and nuclear crisis that have affected thousands of people, in Japan and around the world.

While making sure that family and friends are safe abroad, Japanese nationals who have immigrated to the United States, should also be sure to keep an eye on their immigration status during these difficult times. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is informing Japanese nationals in America that the disaster may make maintaining lawful immigration status difficult for them.

The USCIS has made available the following temporary relief measures for Japanese immigrants as a result of the natural catastrophe:

• The grant of an application for change or extension of nonimmigrant status for an individual currently in the United States, even when the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired;

• Re-parole of individuals granted parole by USCIS;

• Extension of certain grants of advance parole, and expedited processing of advance parole requests;

• Expedited adjudication and approval, where possible, of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship;

• Expedited processing of immigrant petitions for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs);

• Expedited employment authorization where appropriate; and

• Assistance to LPRs stranded overseas without immigration documents such as Green Cards. USCIS and the Department of State will coordinate on these matters when the LPR is stranded in a place that has no local USCIS office.

Japanese nationals visiting America during this time through the Visa Waiver Program may want to contact the closest USCIS office for assistance.

As of March, 20th, 2011, according to the Japanese national police agency, 7653 people had been confirmed dead and 11,746 are officially listed as missing as a result of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The Japanese people need our help and you can help by contributing to organizations such as Doctors Without Borders and the Red Cross.

Visit Red Cross official website for more detailed information about giving a helping hand to what happened to Japan. Donations can totally give them hope and prayers that I won’t happen again.

Himeji J – Himeji-jo White Heron Castle 02
Earthquake Japan

Image by Daniel Mennerich
Himeji Castle is a hilltop Japanese castle complex located in Himeji, in Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan.

The castle is regarded as the finest surviving example of prototypical Japanese castle architecture, comprising a network of 83 buildings with advanced defensive systems from the feudal period. The castle is frequently known as Hakuro-jō ("White Egret Castle") or Shirasagi-jō ("White Heron Castle") because of its brilliant white exterior and supposed resemblance to a bird taking flight.

Himeji Castle dates to 1333, when Akamatsu Norimura built a fort on top of Himeyama hill. The fort was dismantled and rebuilt as Himeyama Castle in 1346, and then remodeled into Himeji Castle two centuries later. Himeji Castle was then significantly remodeled in 1581 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who added a three-story castle keep. In 1600, Tokugawa Ieyasu awarded the castle to Ikeda Terumasa for his help in the Battle of Sekigahara, and Ikeda completely rebuilt the castle from 1601 to 1609, expanding it into a large castle complex.

Several buildings were later added to the castle complex by Honda Tadamasa from 1617 to 1618. For over 400 years, Himeji Castle has remained intact, even throughout the extensive bombing of Himeji in World War II, and natural disasters such as the 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake.

Himeji Castle is the largest and most visited castle in Japan, and it was registered in 1993 as one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country. The area within the middle moat of the castle complex is a designated Special Historic Site and five structures of the castle are also designated National Treasures. Along with Matsumoto Castle and Kumamoto Castle, Himeji Castle is considered one of Japan’s three premier castles. In order to preserve the castle buildings, it underwent restoration work for several years and reopened to the public on March 27, 2015. The works also removed decades of dirt and grime, restoring the formerly gray roof to its original brilliant white color.

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