The March 11th 2011 earthquake off the east coast of Japan triggered massive seismic shifting, followed 15 minutes later by a tsunami that penetrated deep inland destroying several towns, and drove two nuclear power plants into critical mode that required emergency measures to prevent a meltdown.
The one silver lining was that despite the fact the earthquake registered 9.0 on the Richter scale, amongst the strongest earthquakes ever recorded by modern instrumentation, the damage to structures was relatively light because of strict building codes. However, the destructive power of the ensuing tsunami was not entirely anticipated, leading to hundreds of thousands of people without homes, tens of thousands missing or unaccounted for, and thousands confirmed dead. Even now the unfolding nuclear crisis threatens to compound the problems.
Several non-government organizations from the U.S. have stepped in, amongst them the Christian organization World Vision which has led a team deep into the affected area. World Vision has drawn up volunteers from churches in Japan, buttressing their expertise with an army of workers. Independent sites have also sprouted up where people may find various options to donate to Japan earthquake relief efforts. Additionally, the internet giant Google has a number of resources for people interested in sending money directly to Red Cross Japan at their Crisis page.