The soccer ball has the writing on it that indicates it may belong to someone in Rikuzen Takata City in Iwate Prefecture. The city was severely damaged by the March 11, 2011 tsunami.
From Ancourage Daily News (4/21/2012):
Balls on Alaska beach may be first of tsunami debris
Two balls found on an Alaska beach; writing on one traced back to Japan.
By MIKE DUNHAM
Anchorage Daily News
Two sports balls from Japan may be the first positively identified items from the Japan tsunami of last March to reach Alaska shores. According to an April 19 online notice from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Response and Restoration, a soccer ball and volleyball were found on the beach of Middleton Island by David Baxter, a technician at the radar site on the remote island in the Gulf of Alaska.
Baxter noticed Japanese writing stenciled on the balls. His wife translated the writing on the soccer ball and traced it to the name of a school. NOAA confirmed that the school was in the tsunami zone, though located uphill and not seriously damaged by the disaster.
"We're partly getting things secondhand," said Doug Helton with NOAA offices in Seattle. "We're working with the State Department and the government of Japan."
NOAA thinks this could be one of the first times anything washed away during the tsunami has been sufficiently identified as to make it possible to return it to its owner. It's definitely the first such to be retrieved in Alaska, Helton said.
"There have been other items that were suspected, but this is the first one that we're aware of that has the credentials that may make it possible to positively identify it."
It's no surprise that the front edge of tsunami debris should arrive here first. Helton noted that in a new model of predicted debris distribution released earlier this month, "You can see that the Gulf of Alaska is going to get high windage items, floats, Styrofoam, soccer balls. Those things could be moving pretty quickly. Wood and construction materials will be a lot slower.
The volleyball doesn't have enough information on it for the Japanese consulate to establish a possible owner, NOAA said, but queries are continuing.
Persons who find an item they think may be related to the Japan tsunami are asked to take a picture, note the location and report it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Full article at the link)