If you are looking for a person or have information to give about a person located in Japan at the time of the earthquake, a service launched in haste by Google facilitates information sharing. Japan Person Finder is a simplified system of posting a message online about a person whose whereabouts are unknown.
The online tool, accessible for free, is available in English and Japanese. While voice communications are disrupted or impossible, this page allows relatives of the victims to locate them more easily.
The people in the quake zone can signal their presence on this page, and in this way reassure their loved ones. It is also possible for relatives to create a form concerning the person they want, clearly indicating a certain amount of information, such as places where he/she was supposed to go, or by posting a photo in order to obtain information.
Just click on “I’m looking for someone” to begin a search for information about a person, with his/her complete or partial name. A list of answers on the exact name is then displayed. Already more than 7,200 information about individuals have been filed on Japan Person Finder.
To give information, you must click on “I have information about a person” and follow the instructions on the form to indicate if a person was found or, if it is sought, what was his/her last known location, photograph, description, address etc. Users are also invited to leave contact information so that they can be contacted in case of need of information.
Approximately 5000 data were collected seven hours after the earthquake. A rate of 200 additional people reported every five minutes was made by Google.
Google is committed to respecting privacy. Once the crisis is over, the company will retain the list for only one year.