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Exclamation Residents with ties reach out to Japan

from the Democrat and Chronicle:
Residents with ties reach out to Japan
4:29 PM, Mar. 12, 2011
Abbott's Frozen Custard officials have not learned the fate of its franchise in Sendai, which was pummeled by the tsunami that struck Japan.

Officials of Abbott's, headquartered in Rochester, were trying Friday to reach the owner and employees in this city less than 10 miles from the eastern coast.

"We've been trying to make contact since last night when we heard about this but have had no luck so far," Joe Orden, senior franchise coordinator for the company, said Friday morning. Attempts to reach Orden on Friday night were unsuccessful.
Orden said the Sendai Abbott's is owned by a Japanese man, Toshio Chida, who went to college in the United States in the 1960s and was a regular customer of Abbott's while he was here. He returned to Sendai, built a successful business and in 1999 decided to invest in an Abbott's franchise.
According to, Chida, a native of Sendai, was a student at New York University in the 1960s when he tasted Abbott's for the first time during a visit to the Rochester area.
Chida, it said, "could not forget the ice cream." Before returning to Japan in 1971, he asked Abbott's for permission to sell the product in his homeland.
Initially, the answer was "no," according to the website. But Chida finally prevailed, after repeated return visits to America to pursue the issue over many years.
Abbott's and Chida struck a deal in 1999, and Chida began to manufacture and sell Abbott's frozen custard in Japan.

Previously, Chida ran what is called a "cram school" in Japan, which students attend to prepare for the rigorous university entrance examinations.
Currently, Chida has five Abbott's locations in Japan.

Airport 'covered'

Kenichiro "Ken" Sato, the man behind all the oversized photographs and murals in downtown Rochester, also is from Sendai. Sato, 32, of Rochester, said he was able to reach two sisters briefly early Friday and everyone was unharmed. Damage to their property was minimal, as he understood. His family, which includes his parents and another sibling, lives on the west side of the city, near the mountains.
(Page 2 of 3)
The airport is close to the ocean, he said, and "is completely covered by the tsunami." And a beach near the coast, "all gone."

As for other friends and relatives, Sato said he has spent much of Friday on social media sites such as Facebook, trying to get updates.
Sato said on Friday night that he continues to monitor the news online and on television, and is watching for friends on Facebook.

"I have sent e-mails to friends but haven't gotten any back," he said.
Sato arrived in New York City in 2004, and came to Rochester a year later to study public administration at Monroe Community College.

Sato last was home for New Year's Day.
Missing workers located

Three Bausch + Lomb Inc. salespeople who live near Sendai and had been reported missing after the quake have been located and are safe, said company spokeswoman Elizabeth Harness Murphy.
A group of U.S. employees from B+L's New Jersey-based pharmaceutical unit had been in the area at the time, and all have been accounted for, Murphy said.
The Rochester-based eye care company employs 240 in Japan. Aside from Sendai, it also has offices in Sapporo, Omiya, Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka and Hiroshima.
Fine but shaken

Hodaka Hasebe, 50, of Pittsford, used Skype to communicate on Friday morning with his parents, who live in Tokyo, which is about 230 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake. Through the Internet phone service, they told him they are fine, but shaken and worried about potential aftershocks. Hasebe's mother was inside her home when the quake hit.
Hasebe said his mother told him the shaking "was very strong" in her house, toppling and breaking some bookcases. His parents plan to remain in their house in the coming days, but will stay on the first floor, which is more stable, he said.
Hasebe's aunt was visiting a friend about an hour away from her Tokyo home when the building she was in started "moving sideways," he said.

She was not injured, but was unable to return to Tokyo because train service was halted after the quake.

(Page 3 of 3)
"I'm scared about the earthquake," he said. "I hope everyone is OK, but am glad I'm here."

Hasebe, a potter from Tokyo, moved to the United States 22 years ago.
He said he experienced one earthquake in Japan about 25 years ago.

At the time, he was living in a small apartment in Tokyo.

"I was inside when everything started shaking," he said. "I couldn't stand up and crawled outside and saw a car moving sideways."
He said it was not an experience he wished to repeat.

Red Cross ready

The local American Red Cross is just waiting for the call.

Volunteers with the Finger Lakes Region chapter are on standby, ready to deploy overseas to assist earthquake and tsunami victims.
"We haven't had any requests yet, but events are still unfolding," said Leighton Jones, Red Cross director of disaster and emergency services.

Jones said the agency will continue to monitor the situation, and the national Red Cross is working closely with the Japanese Red Cross to assess its needs.
He said there are about 900 trained Red Cross volunteers in the Rochester area who would be able to assist in providing financial, medical, housing and other services in Japan or other Pacific areas affected by the tsunami.
To contribute to Red Cross relief efforts, go to, call (800) 733-2767 or make a $10 donation by texting "Red Cross" to 90999.
Includes reporting by staff writers Matthew Daneman, Victoria E. Freile, Brian Sharp and Tom Tobin.

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