Nearly a year ago, on Sept. 11, the Japan Helpline undertook its most difficult aid effort since the Great Hanshin Earthquake struck Kobe back in 1995.

It was the evening of Sept. 11 in Tokyo. I was chatting online with a friend when he suddenly said "it looks like there was a plane crash in New York." Still not grasping what had happened, I switched on CNN and witnessed myself the nightmarish scenes in the States.

Along with others from the Japan Helpline, as we did after the Great Hanshin, or Kobe Earthquake, when we fielded nearly 2,000 calls from all over the world, I immediately began to contact our sources at CNN, BBC, Fox and NHK, who scrolled our telephone number and Web site address across the bottom of the screen, and advised Japanese who needed help to contact us.