A JAPANESE man living in west Dorset is thanking people for all their help in the wake of the deadly earthquake and tsunami.

Shigeaki Takezoe thanked wellwishers for their support so far following the tsunami which hit his homeland.

The Echo is appealing for donations to the Shelterbox charity which sends tents and vital supplies to victims of disasters who are left homeless and destitute.

Mr Takezoe, a chef who lives with his family in Chideock, said: “I would like to thank everybody who is concerned about the tragedy in Japan.

“So many people, including our children’s friends, have made a point of contacting us, expressing their concern.

“Thankfully our family are safe in Tokyo, but we have been very moved by everybody’s kindness.”

Mr Takezoe added: “Although I am not from the Sendai region, I have been there on holiday.

“It is a beautiful place and I remember the sea being clear and clean, a far cry from what it has become since the earthquake.” Mr Takezoe said that the speed and scale of the disaster was quite beyond what anyone in Japan had ever dreamed of.

He added: “I sincerely hope that the Japanese people can remain stoic and strong throughout this terrible disaster, which I fear will continue to affect the country for many years to come.”

Members of the well established Bridport-Tokyo youth exchange programme have been contacting friends in the wake of the devastating disaster.

Chairman Arthur Woodgate also vowed to continue with a proposed youth exchange this summer – and outlined plans for a memorial for those lost while they are here.

He said: “Thankfully it appears that all are safe. Inevitably everyone has been sadly affected by this terrible disaster. The images on television are horrifying.

“Our hearts go out to the people of Japan, and our thoughts are of our friends always.”

Many teenagers from Bridport have gone to Tokyo and have welcomed Japanese students over the past 15 years of the programme.

One of them, Ellie Pritchard said: “My exchange partner Nana Imada who lives on the west side of Tokyo said that the earthquake was very strong and is still continuing to shake.

“She said that it will probably last for about a week but her and her family are fine.”

Hiroki Suzuki, who initiated the exchange with Mr Woodgate 15 years ago, told how transport and telephones had failed after the ‘horrible’ earthquake. Satori Ohashi, who trains the young people from Bridport in Earthquake Awareness when they arrive in Japan, walked 40 kilometres in nine hours from his place of work in Tokyo to his home in Machida City.

Young people from Tokyo’s Koyamadai High School will be staying with Bridport families from July 31 to August 15.

The visit will include a memorial event for those lost in the ‘shinsai’ – earthquake disaster.