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Japan donations surpass W55b

Donations for disaster relief in Japan surpassed 55 billion won amid an exceptional outpouring of sympathy toward Korea’s closest neighbor.

According to major charities on Monday, the total donations made here amounted to about 55.6 billion won ($51 million) one month after the deadly earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan’s northeastern coast on March 11.

The Korean Red Cross collected 39.2 billion won between March 14 and April 14, the largest amount among local charities which raised relief donations to Japan.

The Community Chest of Korea, the nation’s only government-sanctioned charity, raise 13.2 billion won, more than double the month-long collection of 5 billion won to help quake victims in Haiti last year.

Along with businesses donating 8.8 billion won, more than 523,000 individuals contributed a total of 4.4 billion won.

“More donations poured than during the Haiti campaign as many people consider Japan a closer neighbor,” said a charity official.

International relief agencies World Vision and Good Neighbors collected 2.4 billion won and 800 million won, respectively, in a one-month period.

With the fundraising campaign nearing the final stage, donations were sharply reduced early this month after Japan renewed its sovereignty claim over Dokdo in new middle school textbooks on March 30.

The CCK collected an average of 79,912 donations a day during the first week of its campaign on March 14-18 and 20,515 in the following week.

However, the number decreased to 2,579 donations a day between March 29 and April 6 after Japan’s approval of the new school books.

Donations that it raised through its automatic response system, which draws mostly individuals, also decreased sharply.

The number of calls, which once reached 167,000 calls in the first week, dropped to 82 on March 31 and 21 on April 21.

In protest against Japan’s new textbooks, the office in Goisan, a small town in North Chungcheong Province, stopped raising Japan relief donations from its employees and gave the money back.

At Seoul National University, only 20 out of its 30,000 students made donations during a two-week campaign.

By Lee Ji-yoon (