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Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez and the Legislature's Asian Pacific Islander Caucus are urging Californians to support efforts of a Santa Barbara-based nonprofit organization to raise emergency funds for Japan.

The politicians appeared at a Capitol press conference today to support Direct Relief International, which is teaming with the Japanese American Citizens League to provide emergency supplies.

Pérez, D-Los Angeles, called Japan's recent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear threat a "disaster of epic proportions" and the "worst crisis to hit Japan since the second World War."

"As Californians, we've had our share of natural disasters and we understand how horrific the costs can be, not only in dollars and cents but more importantly in human terms," Pérez said.

"Lives have been ended, families torn apart, homes washed away by not only the earthquake but the ensuing tsunami," he said.

Thomas Tighe, president and chief executive officer of Direct Relief International, said 100 percent of funds raised in the yearlong campaign will be used for Japan food, water, shelter and medical services.

Officials of Cost Plus World Market and Amgen attended today's press conference to contribute.

Californians may donate $10 by texting "Give10" to 20222. They also may contribute at


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