Japanese to swim to Taiwan to show thanks for quake aid

by Alex Martin

Staff Writer

A group of Japanese will swim from Okinawa Prefecture to Taiwan in a gesture of gratitude for the island’s support in the wake of the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake, organizers of the event said Tuesday.

The “Japan to Taiwan Ocean Swim Challenge 2011″ will be undertaken by six Japanese swimmers who will spend 48 hours spanning three days from Sept. 17 to Sept. 19 to take turns swimming approximately 150 km from Yonaguni Island in Okinawa Prefecture to Suou, Taiwan.

The swimmers will take with them letters of appreciation from the governors of Miyagi, Fukushima and Iwate prefectures, the areas most affected by the deadly quake and tsunami.

Taiwan donated more than ¥20 billion to Japan following March 11, of which 90 percent was believed to be donations from the public.

Kazuya Suzuki, a former top-ranking competitive swimmer and leader of the group, said he felt he had to do what he could to show appreciation for Taiwan’s support.

“I felt it was my duty to deepen the friendship between the two countries and pass this on to the next generation,” he said.

The challenge will begin at 5 a.m. Saturday and is expected to finish at around 10 Monday.