Don’t donate money to Japan

By Felix Salmon
March 14, 2011
Individuals are doing it, banks are doing it -- faced with the horrific news and pictures from Japan, everybody wants to do something, and the obvious thing to do is to donate money to some relief fund or other.

Please don't.

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Individuals are doing it, banks are doing it — faced with the horrific news and pictures from Japan, everybody wants to do something, and the obvious thing to do is to donate money to some relief fund or other.

Please don’t.

We went through this after the Haiti earthquake, and all of the arguments which applied there apply to Japan as well. Earmarking funds is a really good way of hobbling relief organizations and ensuring that they have to leave large piles of money unspent in one place while facing urgent needs in other places. And as Matthew Bishop and Michael Green said last year, we are all better at responding to human suffering caused by dramatic, telegenic emergencies than to the much greater loss of life from ongoing hunger, disease and conflict. That often results in a mess of uncoordinated NGOs parachuting in to emergency areas with lots of good intentions, where a strategic official sector response would be much more effective. Meanwhile, the smaller and less visible emergencies where NGOs can do the most good are left unfunded.

In the specific case of Japan, there’s all the more reason not to donate money. Japan is a wealthy country which is responding to the disaster, among other things, by printing hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of new money. Money is not the bottleneck here: if money is needed, Japan can raise it. On top of that, it’s still extremely unclear how or where organizations like globalgiving intend on spending the money that they’re currently raising for Japan — so far we’re just told that the money “will help survivors and victims get necessary services,” which is basically code for “we have no idea what we’re going to do with the money, but we’ll probably think of something.”

Globalgiving, it’s worth pointing out, was created to support “projects in the developing world,” where lack of money is much more of a problem than it is in Japan. I’m not at all convinced that the globalgiving model can or should be applied directly to Japan, without much if any thought about whether it’s the best way to address the issues there.

That said, it’s entirely possible that organizations like the Red Cross or Save the Children will find themselves with important and useful roles to play in Japan. It’s also certain that they have important and useful roles to play elsewhere. So do give money to them — and give generously! And give money to other NGOs, too, like Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which don’t jump on natural disasters and use them as opportunistic marketing devices. Just make sure it’s unrestricted. The official MSF position is exactly right:

The ability of MSF teams to provide rapid and targeted medical care to those most in need in more than 60 countries around the world – whether in the media spotlight or not – depends on the generous general contributions of our donors worldwide. For this reason, MSF does not issue appeals for support for specific emergencies and this is why we do not include an area to specify a donation purpose on our on-line donation form. MSF would not have been able to act so swiftly in response to the emergency in Haiti, as an example, if not for the ongoing general support from our donors. So we always ask our supporters to consider making an unrestricted contribution.

I’ve just donated $400 in unrestricted funds to MSF. Some of it might go to Japan; all of it will go to areas where it’s sorely needed. I’d urge you to do the same, rather than try to target money at whichever disaster might be in the news today.

Update: Some bright spark has set up a “Socks for Japan” drive. I’m not making this up. I trust that none of my readers are silly enough to send socks to Japan, but this is a great indication of how wasteful a lot of well-intentioned giving can be.


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Sapet, you have a dark heart to think that ‘cold logic’ is in anyway helpful.

A simple renaming of the headline is the primary controversy here, not the content of the message you moron.

Gross that some people are standing up for this guy Salmon. Kind of explains why there will always be evil in this world.

Posted by NickBright | Report as abusive 11/03/14/dont-donate-money-to-japan/

For the past two days I’ve been trying to sign up on Reuters com so that I could post my comment but failed because the submit button was hidden under my bottom toolbar. I tried everything but I could not move the position of the box until now, where I had to hide all my toolbars at the top and barely made it to press half of the submit button that was showing.
“Don’t donate money to Japan” the headlines screaming at me, from a Reuters blogger, I just could not believe my eyes! What do you mean when you say that “Japan is a wealthy country which is responding to the disaster, among other things, by printing hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of new money” I didn’t know it was that easy to print new money. If that be the case then there should not be poverty in the streets everywhere in the world.

Giving an article such title at such time is very damaging, offensive, irresponsible and totally unacceptable. No-one is denying that there are not many problems in the world, and many deserving causes, but do you not think, that it does harm in dissuading people from donating to any good cause? Who says Japan doesn’t need any financial help? No doubt Japan is a wealthy country but in such a devastating disaster as huge as this, it needs a lot of financial aid in the future restoration of many cities destroyed by the tsunami, Japan will owe a lot of debts, not to mention the huge damage in the Japanese economics. When people lose their homes, their loved ones, with nowhere to go to, no water, no food, it doesn’t matter whether they are rich or poor – everyone needs help. No matter how rich the country, and especially if you have lost everything, money is always needed.

Yes, I know you mean well in trying to tell the people to channel their donations to the right charities as there are always scammers at times like this, but your timing is lousy. I feel this is nothing but a cheap publicity stunt of yours to draw more readers to your column. But you have just lost one fan of yours with such an irresponsible article. What is one fan to you? Well, don’t be surprised that there are more people who share my opinion and instead of gaining popularity you’ll be at the losing end.

Don’t be so proud of your donation, I think you could have come up with something bigger. I’m proud to tell you that some of my favorite Korean actors and celebrities have donated millions to the relief fund without any hassle at all, to be exact 5 million US$.. They just have big hearts. They do not choose what charities to donate to for the sake of publicity but to the immediate disaster in the news today, which happens to be Japan.

You seem to forget that every time something happens around the world, Japan is always called upon to give aid in money and now that they need it in return, you are suggesting that everyone should just watch and do nothing just because Japan is a wealthy country. In other words, everyone should look the other way, how very sad indeed!
You seem to have a poor memory. Let me remind you of what happened in the USA during Hurricane Katrina. Donations exceeded $108 million during the crucial first four days. IS THE UNITED STATES A POOR COUNTRY? WHY DID THE WORLD HAVE TO HELP AMERICA? THEY COULD HAVE JUST STOOD BY AND WATCHED BECAUSE THE USA IS A RICH COUNTRY.LIKE JAPAN.
Here, I would like to mention about the contributions the USA received from Japan especially, to make my point clearer. More than $1.5 million was collected from private donations. The government of Japan donated $200,000 in cash to the American Red Cross and some $800,000 in relief supplies — from blankets to generators. Japanese firms with operations in the United States donated some $12 million in total, including Honda Motor Corporation ($5 million), Hitachi ($1 million) and Nissan (more than $750,000).
Special mention must be made of the generosity of one Japanese individual — Takashi Endo — who donated $1 million from his personal funds to Katrina relief efforts, said he was moved when, during a business trip to London, he saw a televised report about a mother separated from her children in the chaos of the flooding in New Orleans. The story so disturbed him he could not sleep that night; the next morning he resolved to do something to help.
The Japanese Red Cross Society, in addition to acting as a major conduit for individual and corporate donations to Katrina relief, donated $200,000 of its own funds to support hurricane relief activities of its sister organization, the American Red Cross. All three Japanese international air carriers (ANA, JAL, NCA) offered free use of empty cargo capacity to transport relief supplies to the United States.
You even criticized the Socks for Japan, drive which I don’t find very funny at all. If you really understand our Asian way of life/culture you will know that we take off our shoes before entering the house and we will then walk around the house in our socks or bedroom slippers so that we do not dirty the house. We even keep spare slippers for the use of our visitors. Socks also keep the feet warm in cold weather. So it is not at all silly or wasteful at all as you put it, as the socks will be put to good use I’m sure. Call yourself cultured, I don’t think so.
I suggest that you make an apology for your uncalled for remarks as they are very sensitive.

Posted by eidelweiss99 | Report as abusive

Dear Diary: Today I learned that 90% of Internet users cannot read, and that they utterly lack analytical reasoning capabilities. They are hysterical, sissified, crybaby do-gooders, abounding in false humility and the expression of impotent outrage over any perceived neglect of politically-correct, mainstream-media promoted concepts.

Salmon’s headline is attention-grabbing, preparatory to his expansion on very sensible topics and situational reality. The Internet 90% is a collective pack of illiterate fools.

Posted by dogofdestiny | Report as abusive

Dear Super Brain Felix Salmon,

I don’t have any intelligent comment for your article, because I’m not so intelligent nor well knowledge like you or any other readers here. Nevertheless, allow me to ask you to downgrade your super intelligent brain while you read this.

Simple logic: the Japanese basically are humans, and every human being is deserve humanitarian aid.

Simple logic: if you think that there’s no reliable organisation which deserve to accept your donations (small/big amount it doesn’t, what the really matter is how sincere are you when you giving your money for the donation), why don’t you advised your readers to contact Japanese embassy in each of their countries?! They will give you informations, how you can help, or what they really need from us.

Simple logic: if I want to donate to countries such African countries or even Indonesia (this is where I am now), I won’t to give it to their government, we all know how corrupt their governments or the individuals in their governments, but this is Japanese embassy as representative of the Japanese government, I think they are reliable enough to accept our donation.

For my closure, I dare you to prove yourself that you’re a human.

Why don’t you consider this, once upon a time, somehow, you stranded in the middle of nowhere, you got terrible accident, broke your legs, lost your wallet, then you meet me and ask me to help you with give you small money, and guess what’s my answer? “Go walk to nearest government and knock their door to give you small money.” How do you feel if you have to walk with broken legs and heartache which caused by my words to you?

It’s just simple logic Super Brain Felix Salmon .. just simple logic.

Posted by bibliothecal | Report as abusive

Salmon, I understood what you really meant, but this article title should not be appeared on top page right now. Millions of people in all over east Japan is under life threatening situation, including many, many innocent young ages and children. How do you think if people who have families and close friends in Japan see this. Life is precious. Now is really the time for everyone on earth to reconsider the problem of nuclear and help each other to overcome this situation.

Reuters, please remove this article right away.

Posted by OceanLove | Report as abusive

I am a chinese student and my english is not so good so don’t deride me.
As we all know, Japanese had invaded China in the world War Two . In some degree the relationship between the two country are just compromise in the politic degree. To many Chinese the patriotism make them dislike Japan to some degree.
But since such an huge disaster happened, it make us feel so mourning. Watching TV that there are so many people die because of this big earthquake and seequake and millions of people lost there belongings and lovers . We think we can do something for them.And donate money is the first the occur to my mind. So you havent got hatred for japan why u give such article? you are ruthless to some degree.

Posted by linshaofei | Report as abusive

There are some good ideas in this article, buried under an awful lot of badly-edited rambling argument. What they want to say is ‘donate to the Red Cross, Save the Children and Medicins Sans Frontiers’. I can condone that. However, the main message that comes out is ‘don’t donate to Japan, they don’t need help, they’re a rich country’ – which is just so much bullshit. Nobody’s rich enough for that amount of devastation.

Red Cross rescue workers don’t hide under rocks in between emergencies and live on seawater and wood chips while they work. Very rich countries still can’t instantly house and feed hundreds and thousands of displaced people. And even Japan doesn’t keep the cash for several new hospitals, a whole new road network and a few hundred housing estates lying around in its sock drawer.

Posted by Supermouse | Report as abusive

Can we flag your article as abusive?

Posted by Callah | Report as abusive

What an incredibly poorly thought out article! Japan should not be denigrated because it is a wealthy country! The Japanese government is doing all that it can to keep things stable – they deserve kudos, not kicks!

As individuals, and as a nation, we need to do all that we can, in whatever way we can, to help any country in a time of disaster. I will certainly continue to donate wherever and whenever I have a chance to.

I find this article offensive, and do not feel that you should be kept on as a reporter.

Reuters – did you hear me on that? Mr. Salmon is not representing your best interests, so why is he still here! Controversy will not gain you more readers – it will drive them away!

Posted by BonnieCehovet | Report as abusive

I have two words for this article: Epic Fail.

Posted by cmckie | Report as abusive

Dude. Seriously? I mean I appreciate your point of view, but get off your high horse. So what if people would rather earmark donated funds for a specific cause, at least they are trying to help. To make a ignorant blanket statement like ‘Don’t donate to Japan’ is irresponsible journalism.

I mean, It seems like somewhere in that article you meant to say something like ‘Donating is a good thing, but don’t earmark donated funds’. Am I right?

Oh, and about the socks: people’s houses were ripped out to see man. All of their belongings are just gone. And the sock drive is set up by someone in japan, you digg? I think they know what they need better than you, so cut them some slack.


Posted by RosaBonita | Report as abusive

OMG – Felix, are you just trying to get a rise out of peeps or do you actually believe what you type???

Posted by LC8128 | Report as abusive

Reuters, please remove this article!!!!! If Reuters doesn’t respond to this & refuses to remove this article, could someone who is a little more internet savvy start a facebook campaign to remove this article & get the word out that Americans don’t believe like this author does? We live on one world and we should all be helping each other!!!! Please donate to the Red Cross, if you are in doubt about what organization to donate to. From the posts on here, I believe most people are outraged by this article and have a bigger heart than this.

Posted by vilofern | Report as abusive

This article is beyond offensive. Don’t give money to starving, freezing, homeless people who have been hit by tsunami. Give money instead to the global poverty pimps and their endless cycle of dependency. This person should be fired ASAP.

Posted by emiliano | Report as abusive

Very sensible article. I would just add that another reason not to donate (to anyone or anything) is that the US gov’t took upon itself this “donating” role and collect exorbitant taxes to fulfill it. I – for one – feel that my donating obligations are done on April 15.

Posted by GussieRojas | Report as abusive

The headline is exceptionally meanspirited as is the rest of this story. Also why the need to make fun of people here? Just because the elitist who wrote this story thinks that sending socks to Japan is “silly”, doesn’t mean the rest of us agree with him. I’m the ones who are pouring their hearts and souls into the project do not they are silly. At least the sock knitters are showing Japan and its people what Felix Salmon clearly lacks: compassion.

Posted by ladycascadia | Report as abusive

Totelly agree with Felix. He got a excellent point here. Japan is a rich country, looks at how much money they are printing now? Besides, did you hear what our lovely President Obama had said? He said US will do whatever it can to help Japan. Which means US can print money to help too. Money is definitely not a problem here when two money printing countries working together.
What Japan needs right now, is to have our lovely President Obama go to Japan for full support, instead of taking vacation or hiding in Brazil, but tell his citizen to risk their life to help. What Japan need now is have President Obama to join one of those 50 brave guys that work days any night to fix the reactors. That is what Japan needs right now.
For those people and complained about what Felix said, if they really want to help. I suggest they fly to Japan now and volunteer to help out the nuclear crisis, that is really HELP.

Posted by MYC | Report as abusive

Felix is right. He may have chosen an unnecessarily provocative headline, but the sad truth is that highly visible ‘tear-jerk’ catastrophes are usually exploited — exploited in the form of unofficial/unauthorized charitable organizations and even computer malware that pop up overnight to prey on peoples’ desire to offer up a credit card number and make a donation. DO give, and give generously. But give to established and credible organizations that know how to distribute help efficiently, and to where it is needed most.

Posted by MXA | Report as abusive

This is exactly why American politics is completely idiotic and Americans should feel ashamed of themselves for running a Reality TV show instead a working government. Americans are only moved by shock value. Felix is so correct is everything he says. Does anyone know how many more children will die this year than all the victims in the Tsunami combined? Lets 8 million divided by (lets give a high estimate 30,000) = 266.667 times more people die every year due too malnutrition and poverty. Where’s the America people in this disaster that happens every year?

Vilofern says “We live on one world and we should all be helping each other!!!!”
You are correct so why are you ignoring the millions of children dying every year due too hunger?

To all those naysayers the point is people die every day from easily preventable means. If Americans spent all the money they spend on losing weight, on feeding the poor, not one person would be hungry tonight. Unless its on Fox news or CNN Americans could give a….

Posted by AndySprague | Report as abusive

The ragestorm that this article has stirred up is quite astonishing. Does make one wonder how many of the people baying for Mr. Salmon’s blood (or at the very least his job) have bothered to read past the headline.

Having donated to MSF a few days ago, I completely concur with Mr. Salmon’s point: Don’t earmark funds, people. Sure, the disaster might motivate *you* to donate, where you might not have done so otherwise. (I admit, this is true in my case).

But remember that most likely, you’re not at all qualified to judge what is the most effective aid to give to the victims of a disaster. The aid organizations are experts at doing just that. This is why you should give money, instead of pointlessly tying up logistical capacity by sending canned food and socks to a country that most certainly can get them cheaper and more efficiently.

In fact, your socks were likely made in Bangladesh. Distance from USA to Bangladesh? Roughly 8000 mi. Japan to Bangladesh? About 3000 mi.

Posted by icedrake | Report as abusive

You people critical of Felix Salmon are aware that there are humanitarian crises happening the world over, not just Japan, right?

Posted by giantslor | Report as abusive

Hey asshole, remember when Katrina hit us and America needed help? Oh, wait. America is filthy rich and it is a superpower and need to foreign help, never mind then, let the people of New Orleans suffer and fend for themselves, I am sure they were in safe hands.

First you know nothing about economics, you dont create more wealth by printing money (otherwise we would all be filthy rich), and second alot of the victims are now homeless, cold, starving, and sick and they need medicine, food, and other necessities that these organizations are trying to provide (and not to mention they have a shortage in their country! The other day CNN showed how a convenient store ran out of everything, except alcohol and snacks but had no medicine, no water, and no food!). Third, the hardest hit areas were rural areas and since the infrastructures were damage during the earthquake/tsunami it will take a long time to rebuild so they need help now! Fourth, you are a heartless bastard and your argument is invalid, as of right now we have children, the elderly, the destitute, the sick, the helpless, and a lot of homeless people that cannot wait for help nor rely on the usual safety net for help, they are refugees.

But I guess solidarity means nothing to you and instead we should ship them bootstraps…

In other words. GO FUCK YOURSELF!!

Posted by mutopis | Report as abusive

This is what Fox News and CNN do to people: we are completely unable to read past the headline. I lived in Japan for three years, worked very closely with several NGOs both in the US and in Japan, so I have a pretty good grasp of the political/NGO landscape in both countries, and have great sympathy for the Japanese people.
I struggle to understand the outrage here. The point of the article is simple: let NGOs and governments manage their own activities without hamstringing them by giving restricted donations. What’s the problem with that?
Some relief orgs jump on disasters as fundraising opportunities before they have a plan in place. Good to know. THAT’s the take away here.
If the Kobe earthquake is any indicator, the strongest relief organization in Japan may be the Yakuza. Donate money to them — they run a tight ship.

Posted by newsjunkee | Report as abusive

a naive question – why would earmarking block them to use that pile of funds for some other project?

Posted by Parvinder | Report as abusive

You know… while I’ll agree that the title was poorly chosen, it is painfully obvious that most of the commenters here simply read the article under the impression that the title gave them which is “This person wants us not to donate money”. I think that sort of anger may have skewed their comprehension skills a bit because that’s not what he’s saying at all considering he says himself that he donated 400 himself.

I think the point he’s trying to make is that we as humans should want to donate whenever we can to places that help everyone worldwide and not just when something major happens… that kind of thinking is like trying to buy life insurance on your death bed, it’s best to be prepared ahead of time.

He’s also right that Japan does not need money, they do need HELP, but money? No. Donating to places such as Red Cross or Save the Children would be much more helpful since things like medical and orphan services are much needed there at a time like this.

Posted by Talulah | Report as abusive

How many of you are actually reading more than the headline or first paragraph? You seem to be missing his point.

Posted by bugyourmama | Report as abusive

Hmm, interesting post. The controversy this has generated is somewhat surprising. I’m a long-time reader and I think that most of your usual audience “get” what you were saying. I think you may just have worded your title poorly. It seems that it did not play well with the search engines.

Anyway, my feelings are mixed on the title and content of the article. When I was four years old, my family house and most of the town that I lived in was wiped off the face of the earth by an F5 tornado. The national guard was called in and the relief agencies came rushing. Regardless of how “rich” my family was or the fact that I lived in a country that could print money, none of that mattered in the first week or two after the disaster. The only thing that mattered to us was the help we got from the Red Cross and other charitable organizations. They were amazing. They provided us with so much including shelter. Something as silly sounding as socks (and maybe more importantly the personal note that came with it) was vital. I think you’d be surprised at the regression that one goes through when they lose everything.

Also, I’m fairly certain none of the supplies that were given to us came from the government. It was all donated. In fact I don’t see at all what a nation’s federal money has to do with whether or not a person should make a donation or not. That don’t think that a person that has no blankets or toothpaste is going to see their immediate needs met by printed money.

Now with all of that said, I do see the point that you make. Most of that stuff must have been previously donated and we wouldn’t have seen any of it had it been earmarked to some specific cause.

You make a great point but I think you just chose a very unsympathetic way of making it. I can’t imagine reading an article like this within the first week or so proclaiming that people should not donate to the 1985 tornado. I’m pretty sure I’d have glossed over the content of the article and responded with bitter emotion, as well.

Posted by spectre855 | Report as abusive

Yakuza? That reminds me … individual Americans send billions to Israel every year, and the American government steals more millions from the taxpayers to give to Israel. Humanitarian disaster? Israel? Don’t think so. But, Israel will get more American aid this year than Japan will, or Haiti, or all of Africa combined. How much do you think the Palestinians will get?

Posted by dogofdestiny | Report as abusive

Too late! We have already donated money to trusted Japanese friends in Gifu province, far from the epicenter. I am confident that they will know individual Japanese victims of the disaster for whom official relief will be slow in coming. It is rare for everyone in any major disaster to get the help needed, promptly and efficiently.

Posted by Marvinlee | Report as abusive

Felix Salmon is one sick puppy.

Posted by DisgustedReader | Report as abusive

One of these days, Felix Salmon, you may be laying in the rubble of some major disaster — natural or terrorist — and some Aussie reporter will post an article that screams:

Don’t donate money to America

You just wait… that smart-a** headline is going to bite you in the place that is cushioning your brain, Felix Salmon, and you may think about your headline for days as you lay buried in some collapsed underground garage or structure.

Posted by DisgustedReader | Report as abusive

8:13 am EDTThank you Helpforjapan8! I loved your post. I will post it again so everyone can make sure to contact Rueters!!!PLEASE CONTACT RUETERS AND FIRE FELIX SALMON! Felix Salmon… Your words and article are ill timed, ill advised and clearly shows you have very little respect for the fact that your opinion are broadcast worldwide through Reuters and what damage it may cause.As such you may have a direct impact on aid that would have helped save lives or at least improve them. If someone wants to give socks to people in Japan to keep their feet warm what is wrong with that?You have crossed over the line of good sense and human decency.I read the disclaimer Reuters makes about bloggers opinions not reflecting the viewpoint of the Reuters Corp.Now I understand why… However they are responsible for being a conduit for your extremely wrong message sent at the wrong time and place. Therefore I am writing to all the corporate contacts I can find at Reuters asking you be removed from their web site as a blogger, writer or what have you.I am providing the link here for others to follow my example. I hope you have the good sense to apologize to the people of Japan, Reuters and the international readers for your spiteful and disgusting article. Japanese culture is too polite to respond to you sir, so I am doing it for them.To impune someone who is giving a means of comfort to the people of Japan even if it is socks, scarfs, blankets or even words of comfort is so low and so offensive that it deserves nothing less for you to lose your job.Here is the page where you can contact Reuters through email. I encourage everyone who agrees with me to do the same. In this way we hopefully show Reuters they have to be responsible for what they allow to be published. It will also send a message to Felix Salmon that he needs to think more carefully before he slanders people who are trying to help others in need without first thinking what effect his words may have on others in a public forum. as/med ia_contacts/ ws_ideas/med ia_contacts/#corporateI am also calling corporate tomorrow to let them know that I am not crank reader or some vindictive psycho but someone who has lots of media contacts and have done PR campaigns for major companies and corps before.You sir have gong far beyond what is acceptable journalism. I pity you for your lack of sensitivity, knowledge and in general good taste. Goodnight Mr. Felix and good riddance.

Posted by loneranger9 | Report as abusive

Congratulations! Felix! Apparently your article was quite successful… Check out the latest article from _earthquake_aid/index.htm?section=money_ pf&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed &utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rss%2Fmoney_pf+%28 Personal+Finance%29&utm_content=My+Yahoo

Donations to Japan down 80%

Very sad for the suffering people of Japan.

Posted by loneranger9 | Report as abusive

Great Idea Viofirn! Can someone start a Facebook page so that we can get Felix fired from Reuters? I used to depend on Reuters as a reliable and unbiased source of news. Now, I no longer have any respect for them as a reputable news source as long as Felix Salmon is still working for them.

Posted by loneranger9 | Report as abusive

I don’t have to worry about what Felix thinks because I have in laws over there that I now have to support directly. They live 100 miles away from the quake, but have no income or job to go to now. They have no access to food, even if they had money. Likely they will have to flee to another relative’s house or starve to death because the government is focused 100 miles away on two other major disasters. Do you think everything is just swell elsewhere else, it’s not.

I would like to thank the people from China and Korea and other neighboring nations who have donated. What can anyone possibly say to them that even remotely comes close to capturing the generosity of these people? They above all others, have every right to turn their back on Japan. There are good people everywhere. The US could use some friends like these.

Posted by blazo | Report as abusive

Can the Salmon be any more disgraceful? Who raised this pathetic boy? I did’nt think you would care to claim him.

Posted by wisehiney | Report as abusive

This article is disgusting.I would much rather donate to a country that has a great work ethic and is to be commended for their ability to stay strong in the face of hardship. The way the Japanese people support each other is something we should all note. I will be happy to support the Japanese people in their time of need.

Posted by bigmama | Report as abusive

Edelweiss99, I couldn’t agree more with you. Thank you for a very educated and inclusive response to Salmon’s article. I generally like his articles although they always seem a little sensationalist. But especially the title of this one is certainly misplaced. Mr. Salmon: one can’t always get it right. We all know that, but this time it has to be said, you and Reuters have really messed it up.

Posted by Rhino1 | Report as abusive

What a poorly thought out article.

First of all, where is your compassion Felix? If you had such tragic events take place in your life which were beyond your control, would you not want someone to help you? As a Reuters blogger, you probably make a decent living but if your home, family and livelihood were wiped out in one go, would you not want someone to feel some compassion for you? Should one just think that just because once you had success you should be left to fend for yourself?

There are many problems in the world. We should all try to help those who are less fortunate. If one is moved to help a country because the monumental misfortune it has experienced, why discourage it? (BTW, I’m sure if I was one of the people that lost everything and was sitting in the freezing cold, I would appreciate a pair of socks.) Every little bit helps.

If you want to help, you can look at and be more informed about how your money is spent. Charities are rated on how much of your $ goes directly to the need vs. administrative / fundraising costs. I recently gave to Doctors Without Borders and Save the Children. I would like my money to go specifically to Japan and I see nothing wrong with that. If an organization has money earmarked for Japan, then that also means that their other monies can be spent in other places.

Unfortunately, there will never be enough money to solve the problems in the world. Let people help in the ways they can. Every act counts, whether big or small. Who knows- -perhaps a Japanese person who is helped with charity this year will end up helping someone elsewhere because he will remember the help he got. Giving of any kind should never be discouraged.

Posted by sakaenyc | Report as abusive

I think that giving donation is a very personal decision. In some ways, it is an acceptable rational logic to claim that Japan does not need our money because they are rich, and if Japan needs charities like Red Cross to help out, they would probably donate directly rather than sit there and wait for Red Cross’ donation department to collect enough money then take action.

I don’t think there is right or wrong. But being a plain citizen, I don’t donate to a particular organization on a regular basis. But by watching which ones are out there right now gives me a better perspective of which organization to choose to donate to now. That said, I may not donate to this particular tragic case, but may plainly donate to (say) Red Cross disastrous relief whether they will need to use it now or for a next tragic situation.

Posted by wendyyim925 | Report as abusive

“Kouetsu Sasaki, a 60-year-old city hall worker, said they still need gas, vegetables, socks, underwear, wet wipes and anti-bacterial lotion. There is some medicine, but not enough.”

I clicked on the Journalism Handbook, then clicked Standards and Values, then clicked on Integrity, and scrolled down to Dealing with People.

When covering people in the news, Reuters journalists:

Avoid needless pain and offence
Treat victims with sensitivity
Eschew gossip about the private lives of public figures
Avoid sensationalism and hype
Seek clear, unambiguous accounts of the facts
Are on alert for spin and other forms of media manipulation
Are wary of assumptions and bias, including our own as journalists

…and humility when covering people.

Posted by globalamerican | Report as abusive

Some readers are claiming that they appreciate what Felix is trying to say, but that he didn’t word it quite right. Well, if he cant get his words right, perhaps he needs to think of another vocation. As for the headline – I guess if you cant provide worthy content, you’ve got to resort to cheap tricks.

Imagine if the situation was reversed and we were all watching California melt away, and a Japanese paper wrote this kind of story. How many of us would understand that?

Dear editor – please find a decent journalist to replace Mr. Salmon, someone with a little more sensitivity who can put the right words in the correct order.

Posted by dcom | Report as abusive

Imagine if the boot was on the other foot and we were watching California, with Americans starving in the snow with nothing left, as officals fought to stave off multiple nuclear meltdowns.

How would we feel reading articles like this? Headlines like this? Very inappropriate and very very irresponsible. As someone above has pointed out – Felix is personally responsible for changing people’s opinions regarding giving support to these people. There are reliable groups trying to raise money to support the victims, who, simply put, are human beings, not so different to you and I, who need urgent help.

Felix – hopefully a day will come when you look back on your life and consider the value you added to our world. When you do take toll, remember this. The chances are, your have caused more pain than happiness in the time you have spent here, whether you intended to or not is irrelevant – that is the net effect of your actions. Very sad indeed.

Reuters: It is very irresponsible of you to give someone who exhibits such bad judgment a public platform to voice their views. It is no excuse to claim he didn’t express himself clearly enough. He’s meant to be a writer/journalist isn’t he? Sort it out. You’ve lost my respect completely.

Posted by dcom | Report as abusive

I am very heartened by the dialogue I see here – both Mr. Salmon’s provocative title and statement, and the reaction from readers both outraged and otherwise.

As a firefighter who responds regularly to medical emergencies and natural disasters both within my community and nationally, I can attest that we have underinvested in the logistical tools for efficient response. Over and over, we’ve all seen the photos of food rotting in depots while victims suffer in the field. Relief organizations never get the funding they need to prepare for the next disaster. We would do well to show our compassion by allowing relief organizations to exercise their own judgement to invest in disaster response infrastructure, rather than earmark funds to assuage our own discomfort at seeing tragic photos every few months. More disasters will come, and we will forever be stuck in a pattern of a disorganized, too little-too late response unless we change our approach.

Posted by earthshiva | Report as abusive

Parvinder, earmarked funds are by law forced to be used only for the purposes they are earmarked…it’s part of the bycodes put in for Federal Funding.
So all that money earmarked for Haiti, if the Red Cross pulls out…they basically have to keep the money in an account and only spend it on Haiti concerns, no matter if there’s an earthquake and tsunami in Japan, or one in Pakistan,or a complete collapse of the medical system in the Ivory Coast.
That’s really the point of the Article: Donate to the charities, don’t earmark. Money will get spent on japan, but then the Red Cross will be off to the next disaster, and they can use your money there, too.


Posted by REDruin | Report as abusive

Most people objecting to this article havent read it very closely and just want to spout off and sound self-righteous. Of course, any sensible person including the writer is going to be happy with charitable dollars being used to help the victims of the disaster in Japan. The problem is whether restricted funds are a good way to do this. Large scale relief needs large scale public and accountable coordination. Random charitable efforts dont accomplish much and can lead to waste and even corruption when organizations find it difficult to effectively use the resources they have raised. The point of the article is to give UNrestricted funds so that emergency response can be effective and efficient.

Posted by scottabc | Report as abusive

Ivory Towers, Felix. Silver spooner?

Posted by nieldevi | Report as abusive

Felix has a good point.
People only see the headlines.

The trouble with his argument is that the flashy headlines are what motivate people to donate.

Less high-profile suffering just doesn’t get the advertising that natural disasters do.

Posted by rtgunlimited | Report as abusive

The title is VERY misleading. What the author is saying is “give money to charities that actually help”, NOT “screw Japan”. I feel that many people aren’t actually reading the article.

To put it in context: around 10,000 people died in the disaster in Japan (estimated). Around 10,000 people die EVERY SINGLE DAY around the world simply because they don’t have food or decent medical care (also estimated). It is true that natural disasters are terrible events, but Japan is a strong, independent country. They do not need our help as much as the children who die of hunger or disease before the age of 5.

Posted by derrek | Report as abusive

Congratulations! Felix! Apparently your article was quite successful… Check out the latest article from _earthquake_aid/index.htm?section=money_ pf&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed &utm_campaign=Feed%3A+rss%2Fmoney_pf+%28 Personal+Finance%29&utm_content=My+Yahoo

Donations to Japan down 80%

Very sad for the suffering people of Japan.

Posted by loneranger9 | Report as abusive