DOWNTOWN : Groups to Send Up to $1 Million to Kobe

Three Southern California groups have told Japanese officials that they are sending $500,000 in donations to help Kobe recover from its devastating earthquake on Jan. 17.

Gathering the money took virtually no effort. There were no fund-raisers, no special mailers and no appeals, a spokesman said.

"The actual raising of the money couldn't have been any easier," said Mike Mullen, executive director of the Japan America Society of Southern California. Most of the donations came from private citizens. The other contributors were the Japan Business Assn. and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern California.

Representatives met Wednesday at the Downtown office of the Consul General of Japan, Seiichiro Noboru, who called Gov. Toshitami Kaibara of Hyogo prefecture, where Kobe is the largest city and was most damaged in the quake. Mullen said the coalition hopes to send another $500,000 to Japan in the next couple of weeks.

As of late last week, the death toll from the Jan. 17 quake in Kobe stood at 5,103 people, with nine still missing and 26,803 injured. Japanese officials expect quake damage to top $130 billion.

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