Ichiro Suzuki donates 100 million yen to Japan earthquake relief

Japanese baseball player Ichiro Suzuki has donated 100 million yen to help aid the relief efforts ongoing in Japan following the destructive earthquake and tsunami that has devastated the nation over the past week.

Though he has declined to comment on his reported donation, BowPlanning, Ichiro's management company, has confirmed the donation and amount to Kyodo News. The donation amount converts to about $1.23 million, or about seven percent of the Seattle Mariners outfielder's $18 million salary he will earn in 2011.

Ichiro is usually quiet about his charitable efforts. Last month the major league all-star donated 10 million yen to relief efforts following the volcano eruption in the Miyazaki Prefecture without much discussion publicly about the donation.

The Mariners will make efforts to continue funding relief efforts in Japan as well once the regular season begins by guaranteeing a total of $100,000 of donated funds in addition to matching any funds donated by team members and fans during a six-game home stand. Nintendo of America, a majority owner of the Mariners, is also matching donations from its employees to the American Red Cross and other organizations. Nintendo's parent company is located in Kyoto, Japan and the company has announced they will donate approximately $3.7 million to relief efforts.

Ichiro entered Major League Baseball in 2001 after a successful career in Japan's Pacific League. One of the biggest starts in Japan, Ichiro decided to give Major League Baseball a try, and right from the start he was a hit. Ichiro won both the American League Rookie of the Year and American League MVP awards and became the first Japanese player to be the leading vote receiver for the All-Star game. Since then Ichiro has recorded a number of hits records and has been one of the first and finest Japanese players to play regularly in Major League Baseball.

Ichiro represented Japan in the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classic tournaments, which allowed major league players to compete in an international competition held before the start of the regular season. He remains a pop culture icon in Japan despite playing in the United States for as long as he has. Ichiro does commercials in his native country and is used as the influence for a character in an anime series.

Other Japanese major leaguers are continuing to hope for the best in their home country as well, and some are still trying to make contact with friends and family in affected areas of Japan.

It's a tough situation," Red Sox reliever Hideki Okajima said through a translator. "You can't control nature, but when something like this happens, you really realize the power of nature."

Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka said his parents in Tokyo were safe, but he has not been able to get in touch with his grandmother. Earlier this week Ichiro was also still trying to get in contact with his family but he has chosen not to disclose any further information with reporters.

Some major league franchises, including the Oakland Athletics and San Diego Padres, have stated they will donate funds to more relief efforts and charitable organizations by raising funds during Japanese heritage nights and other fundraising events.

Image Source: Wikipedia