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Visiting Japanese charity tours Los Angeles

March 15, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
There are always lots of Japanese tourists seeing the sights in Southern California. But there's a delegation currently visiting for much different reasons. These kids will be running in Sunday's Los Angeles Marathon, and they're doing it for the youngest victims of Japan's 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

ASHINAGA, a well-known charity in Japan benefiting children, brought a group of kids to Los Angeles. The kids got a look at Dodger Stadium Thursday.

The charity is touring different countries to raise money to build an orphanage for about 2,000 children who lost parents in the tsunami and earthquake that devastated Japan last year.

Daichi Sato lost his his father in the disaster.

"After my father died, I just had to keep moving forward, and I am so excited to be at Dodger Stadium because I am a baseball player," said Sato through a translator.

Sato is running in the L.A. Marathon this weekend. He will be joined by other youngsters from Japan, most of them athletes running to help the charity raise money to build the orphanage.

Nazomi Uchimura lost her father in the tsunami and earthquake. She is not running in the marathon, but she will be there to cheer on the others.

"I would like to be a role model for the younger children so that by being here and being on TV and talking to the media so that they can themselves do the same," said Uchimura.

ASHINAGA is hoping to raise $45 million to build an orphanage in Japan. So far they have been able to raise half of that money.

"We would say 'Thank you America' for supporting us since the disaster. That is the first purpose. And secondly, now, still, we are suffering from that, so the recovery, it takes more and more, so we ask you, America, and American public, please continue to support us more and more," said Kazuyoshi Kitaoka.