Makoto Hirayama, president of Kitoku-Shinryo, a Japanese rice importer and wholesaler, asked that the following message be sent to the U.S. rice industry in the aftermath of last Friday's earthquake and tsunami:

"Thank you for your kind words of hope and concern [during] such time of sadness for our country," Hirayama wrote to USA Rice Federation.  "Your thoughtfulness is greatly appreciated. We are a strong nation and will work together to overcome this unforeseen disastrous event."

Kitoku-Shinryo's rice facility in Sendai, Japan, was demolished by the disasters and three of the company's employees are missing.  The facility handled milling, packaging and storage.  The rice importer and wholesaler has imported U.S.-grown rice for many years through the simultaneous-buy-sell import system used in USA Rice's promotions in Japan.

In a message sent to Kitoku-Shinryo earlier this week, USA Rice President and CEO Betsy Ward expressed the U.S. rice industry's strong concern and support to all the "good friends we have at Kitoku Shinryo.  We know the spirit of the Japanese people is very strong and we fully expect your country and your company to overcome this challenge despite its enormity."