Statement by Mr. Shuzen TANIGAWA
Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan
at the Ministerial Meeting on Humanitarian Assistance
to Tsunami Affected Countries
Geneva, 11 January 2005
Permanent Mission of Japan in Geneva
Mr. Jan Egeland, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs,
Representatives of the participating countries and international organizations,
At the outset, I wish to extend my deepest condolences to those who lost their lives in the tsunami disaster, which was caused by a large-scale earthquake off the coast of Sumatra. I also wish to express my sincere respect for all the aid workers who are making tireless efforts in the disaster-stricken areas. My heart-filled respect also goes to Mr. Egeland, who has chaired this significant meeting.
The tsunami disaster took many precious lives not only of the countries hit by the tsunamis, but also other parts of the world, including Europe and Japan. Facing such an unprecedented disaster, it is not too much to say that the spirit of sympathy and solidarity has been put to the test; the spirit to take the sorrow of the victims as our very own and offer our support.
Japan had its own experience of being struck by a major earthquake in the Kobe-Hyogo region exactly ten years ago when the invaluable lives of over six thousand were lost. Recently, another major earthquake hit Niigata, Japan, which also left serious damage. Having gone through such experiences ourselves, we in Japan cannot help but feel the deepest sympathy for the victims of this tsunami disaster.
The international community, based on the spirit of solidarity, has committed extensive assistance in response to the UN Flash Appeal launched the other day. We see that aid coordination among countries and international organizations will become a more important issue in the coming days to provide the assistance effectively and efficiently. In this regard, we expect the United Nations to play a more central role.
Japan will provide assistance to the maximum extent possible in three ways: financial resources, knowledge and expertise, and human resources. Japan has pledged, for the time being, to extend up to $500 million of grant money as emergency assistance to cope with the damage. In response to the UN Flash Appeal, Japan will expeditiously provide $250 million out of the $500 million for assistance to disaster-stricken countries through relevant international organizations. Among those are $70 million for UNICEF and $60 million for the WFP. We will also extend our contribution to other UN organizations such as OCHA, which is the coordinating body for the aid activities, and the ISDR, which plays the leading role in UN actions on disasters, as well as other international organizations such as the IOM and IFRC.
Japan will also extend bilateral grant aid of around $250 million directly to Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives, three countries severely hit by the disaster. I appeal to other countries to implement the assistance they have committed as quickly as possible.
Japan will make efforts to rapidly establish a tsunami early warning mechanism for the Indian Ocean countries, taking into account the one for the Pacific Ocean. In Kobe City of Japan's Hyogo Prefecture, which achieved a remarkable recovery from the big earthquake of ten years ago, the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Reduction will be held next week. In response to Japan's proposal, a special session on this early warning mechanism will be held at the Conference. At this opportunity, Japan would like to discuss the ways of cooperation, including a concrete framework, training, and holding seminars. Japan intends to actively contribute its knowledge, expertise, and technology, under the coordination of the ISDR and in cooperation with UNESCO and other international organizations and countries which have knowledge and expertise in the tsunami early warning mechanism in the Pacific.
With respect to our contribution towards human resources, Japan, soon after the tsunami disaster, dispatched Japan Disaster Relief Teams to devastated areas in Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and the Maldives to provide medical and other assistance. Japan has also conducted search and rescue operations by mobilizing the capabilities of the Japan Self Defense Forces. Furthermore, Japan has also dispatched transport aircraft of the Air Self Defense Forces to implement measures in the fields of transport and epidemics prevention in Indonesia.
The tsunami disaster has caused serious damage to social infrastructures in the disaster-stricken countries. In addition to immediate relief assistance in the three fields mentioned above, Japan will also extend its maximum possible assistance, in close cooperation with countries and international organizations concerned, to provide assistance based upon medium and long term rehabilitation and reconstruction plans.
In the aftermath of the tsunami disaster, governments and people of the world have provided prompt and vigorous solidarity to the victims of this unprecedented catastrophe. Japan has been providing maximum assistance for the tsunami disaster because, thanks to the warm help extended from around the world when my country faced disasters in the past, Japan was able to overcome the agonies of disaster and rise up for reconstruction. I sincerely hope that this meeting will further strengthen the sympathy and solidarity of the international community, enhance preparedness for natural disaster, and bring hope for the future.
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