On March 11, I was flying into Tokyo from Okinawa when the earthquake hit. By the time I landed, transportation by car was completely stopped, but I still didn't know the situation. Finally, a friend called and told me what had happened, and I began to feel fear. I went to high school in Sendai in Miyagi prefecture, where some of the worst damage occurred, and I know many people from there, some who took care of me. I immediately thought of them, and fortunately, they were safe. I was relieved to hear that.
In the aftermath, I feel that Japanese people like me, who didn't suffer any damage, can't let emotions take over but must instead focus on day-to-day tasks -- whether we're going to work or helping with the rescue. I'm glad that I was in Japan when the disaster struck. I would have felt differently had I seen everything unfold from the U.S.
I believe people have the ability to visualize things and then make them happen. Japan is not a big nation, but we have faced many disasters and obstacles and have overcome each one by working together.
I received many notes and calls of concern from my friends overseas. And each time I Âanswered, "It's very difficult, but we are working hard and in unison, so it is O.K." People are conserving energy and water as well as giving encouraging messages. These are all good influences on me and make me want to contribute.
I saw a very influential message from a Japanese hurdler that said professional athletes can provide a source of hope and courage, and to do that, we need to work hard and play to the best of our abilities. This really touched me, and I could not agree more. That is why I will put every effort into what I do on the golf course.
Furthermore, after discussing it with Momoko Ueda and Mika Miyazato [no relation], two Japanese golfers who play with me on the LPGA tour, we've Âdecided to raise funds together through a website. We feel our role is to reach out to as many people as possible for their aid, not just in Japan but also overseas. Our slogan is Makeruna Nippon -- Never give up, Japan. We decided on this because we wanted to emphasize the idea that we can overcome obstacles by working together, no matter how difficult the situation may be.
Ai Miyazato, who's playing in this week's Kia Classic, won five LPGA events and rose to No.Â 1 in the rankings in 2010. Her relief-fund website is firstgiving.com/fundraiser/MakerunaNippon/Never-Give-Up-Japan.