Local governments in areas of Japan hit hard by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster have begun fundraising for victims of the recent devastating quake in Taiwan, hoping to return the kindness their residents received seven years ago.

Fundraising has already started in some areas and some towns are considering activities in the northeastern prefectures of Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima which received assistance such as relief money, food and electricity generators following the disaster on March 11, 2011.

The town of Minamisanriku in Miyagi has installed donation boxes at the town hall and other locations, while activities to collect money are also under way at local schools and shopping centers.

The town had received a donation of around 2.2 billion yen ($20.2 million) from Taiwan and used it to rebuild a hospital.

"There are Taiwanese tourists who visit and stay here using minpaku (private lodging) services. I don't think the earthquake there is just their problem," said Yusuke Shibuya, 37, a grocery store owner in Minaminsanriku.

"I would be happy if our feeling of appreciation reaches them through fundraising," he said.

The city of Hanamaki in Iwate has also started collecting relief money at its government office, while the towns of Futaba and Okuma, which host the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, are also considering starting fundraising.

The quake that hit the eastern Taiwan city of Hualien on Tuesday left at least 16 people dead and some 280 injured.