Japan and ASEAN Vow Closer Cooperation in
Disaster Management
Special Japan-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting Held in Jakarta

April 15, 2011

The Foreign Ministers of Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have concurred on the importance of further promoting cooperation in disaster management and to support Japan's resolve to play a leadership role in international efforts to improve the safety of nuclear power plants. They shared the view at the Special Japan-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting held in Jakarta on April 9 in the wake of the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and massive tsunami that caused a series of serious accidents in Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Japan. The Chairman's Statement on the meeting called it "a historic occasion" for Japan and ASEAN to come together for the common purpose of addressing threat of natural disasters.

Japanese Leaders Thank ASEAN for Warm Support

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan sent a message to the meeting, expressing his deep gratitude to ASEAN for its warm support given to Japan at a time when the country is dealing with the nuclear plant crisis as well as post-disaster relief and reconstruction. The ASEAN Foreign Ministers expressed their "sympathy, solidarity and support" to the Government and people of Japan in their recovery and reconstruction efforts.

The ASEAN Ministers "expressed their appreciation for Japan's generous support, which has been contributing to the development of ASEAN countries," according to the Chairman's Statement. They also showed their "strong expectation that Japan will continue to contribute to the development and stability of the region." Furthermore, they voiced "their determination to reciprocate by rendering their assistance and support to Japan."

Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Takeaki Matsumoto, who conveyed the Prime Minister Kan's message to the meeting, also deeply appreciated ASEAN's warm support and briefed his ASEAN counterparts on the latest developments on the disaster as well as on Japan's determination to overcome the aftermath of the calamity and achieve early recovery.

Foreign Minister Matsumoto Details Response to Nuclear Accident

At the meeting, Foreign Minister Matsumoto appreciated ASEAN countries' level-headed response to the nuclear accident and called attention to the Government of Japan's efforts to tackle the disaster with advice and cooperation from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and other parties concerned in order to bring the situation under control. He also noted that the radiation level in the atmosphere has been decreasing gradually and has become nearly normal. He added that such international organizations as ICAO, IMO and WHO have announced their objective assessments of the situation. He quoted these organizations as stating that there is no need for travel restrictions and other excessively protective measures.

Recognizing that the nuclear power plant issue is a matter of concern to the entire international community, Minister Matsumoto said Japan would share its knowledge and experience gained from the accident "with maximum transparency" with ASEAN and the international community as a whole so as to contribute to strengthening the safety of nuclear power generation.

Japan Assures ASEAN of Food Safety

Regarding food products of Japanese origin, Foreign Minister Matsumoto said the Government of Japan has established relevant provisional regulation criteria and taken measures such as halting shipment from the areas concerned to ensure the distribution of safe food products. He called on ASEAN to respond to the situation in a rational manner on the basis of scientific reasoning, taking into consideration the measures taken by Japan and the information it provides.

ASEAN appreciated Minister Matsumoto's detailed explanations and assured him that ASEAN will continue to respond to the situation in a level-headed manner. It was also noted that Japan's recovery and reconstruction as well as ASEAN's economic growth are mutually important because of the increasing economic interdependence between the two sides.

Japan Pledges Transparency in Offering Information

The Chairman's Statement acknowledged "with appreciation" Japan's pledge to maximize efforts to regain the control of the situation at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant with all available means and Japan's assurance to provide the international community with information on the response to the nuclear accident "with maximum transparency." It added ASEAN trusts that "Japan will continue to provide such information to the international community."

The ASEAN Ministers were "confident that through determination and concerted efforts, inspired by compassion and solidarity, Japan will recover and emerge as an even stronger partner for ASEAN."

The meeting opened with a speech by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of the Republic of Indonesia, which was hit by the 2004 Indian Ocean quake and tsunami. Indonesia proposed the meeting as the current ASEAN chair. President Yudhoyono underlined the importance of the meeting "as a reflection of solidarity between ASEAN and Japan in addressing natural disasters," according to the Chairman's Statement. He emphasized that an "effective and timely response to disasters of such a magnitude requires a coordinated and coherent approach." He also stressed "the need to further enhance capacity for disaster preparedness and management by building upon the existing mechanisms and frameworks."

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