COLUMBUS (TDB) -- Federal disaster officials say they've found 400 Japanese workers in a portion of NW Ohio that was flooded by severe storms last month. Most were in the Findlay area and could not speak English fluently enough to know they might be eligible for assistance. FEMA said it found a Japanese professor at the University of Findlay, Fumiko Harada, who has been pressed into service as a translator and liaison with the Japanese community.
The government disaster agency issued a news release today about its efforts to aid the Japanese in Ohio. FEMA said it wants to find all Japanese nationals who suffered losses in the flooding, and reach out to families who need relief. Japan says it is the leading foreign investor in Ohio. Any move by the U.S to assist them makes good economic and business sense -- and also represents what friends are supposed to do for neighbors.
The Embassy of Japan says there are about 7,500 Japanese nationals in Ohio, a state with Honda as one of its largest employers. About 1,600 of the Japanese are employed in 356 facilities located around the state. The data comes from a biennial survey compiled by Japan's consulate general in Detroit(pdf).
"There are 7,514 Japanese nationals residing in Ohio, most of whom live in the counties of Franklin, Hamilton, Montgomery and Cuyahoga. Over the past 10 years, the population of Japanese nationals has increased by 16% in Ohio.
"In Ohio, 86% of Japanese facilities are wholly Japanese-owned. The remaining 14% are joint venture with various local and international partners. Sixty-four percent of facilities employ less than 100 people per location. These facilities are typically sales, engineering, or service operations. The other 36% are typically major technical centers or manufacturing operations."
Japanese firms employ a lot of Ohioans: At last count they provided 62,695 paychecks, with more than half the jobs in the automotive sector.