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The Japanese professional footballers’ association JPFA is the winner of the 2012 FIFPro Merit Award. The players union received the award because of its charity work for the victims of the 2011 tsunami in Japan.

In Washington, JPFA’s legal counsel Takuya Yamazaki collected the $25,000 cheque on behalf of his union.

On March 11th 2011 disaster struck in Japan, as an earthquake and a devastating tsunami hit Japan. The country suffered 15,870 casualties and enormous damage to its infrastructure. Japanese prime minister Naoto Kan called this disaster the toughest and most difficult crisis for Japan in the 65 years after the end of the Second World War.

The JPFA came into action. The Japanese union wanted to help its countrymen who were so unfortunate. The aim was to supply the Tohoku region in north eastern Japan with financial means to advance the reconstruction efforts, as well as to provide the inhabitants with ‘inspiration and hope’.

‘We organized three different activities’, Yamazaki explained. ‘A fund-raising campaign (including charity auctions; a Christmas charity match and various school visits. The JPFA and the players raised approximately 500,000 euro which was donated to the Japanese Red Cross to assist the Tsunami victims, and 72,500 euro which was given to the J100 Fund.

The J100 Fund assists the reconstruction efforts through purchasing and providing relief supplies and football equipment to the Tohoku area, and providing funds for future JPFA-led activities, including, football clinics.