Address by Mr. Shuzen Tanigawa, Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan At the Ministerial Meeting on Regional Cooperation on Tsunami Early Warning Arrangements
January 29, 2005
First of all, I would like to express my deepest condolences for the numerous victims, Thai and foreigners including Japanese, who lost their lives here in Thailand, especially in Phuket, because of the recent tsunami disaster. I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to the Thai Government for making maximum efforts to search and rescue not only Thai but also foreigners including Japanese and to preserve and identify their remains.
I hope that this meeting organized by Thai Government would expand the achievements of the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Kobe and contribute to the construction of a tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean.
As I have already said at the UN World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Kobe, Japan is prepared to provide to the maximum extent possible knowledge and technology regarding the establishment of a tsunami early warning system through both bilateral cooperation and international organizations. At the same time, to reinforce preparedness against tsunamis in the Indian Ocean region, and in response to requests from countries in that region, we are ready to provide tsunami warning information obtained from observation data, which can be utilized at present, through existing information networks, as a temporary measure until a tsunami early warning mechanism becomes fully operational for the Indian Ocean. For the effective operation of the provisional system, it is necessary for the countries of the Indian Ocean to designate their national focal organizations to receive the information from this system around the clock, and to establish communication networks to deliver the information to the people in the coastal areas, in a prompt manner.
As a successful precedent, the Government of Papua New Guinea once implemented a disaster prevention education program for local residents by using educational pamphlets created based on the Japanese know-how, and as a result there was no victim in the major earthquake and the tsunami in 2000. Such a disaster prevention education is also important and Japan is prepared to provide its knowledge in this regard in cooperation with the International Tsunami Information Center (ITIC) and the Asian Disaster Reduction Center (ADRC).
With a view to establishing an effective and durable tsunami early warning system for the Indian Ocean, first, the system, as commended by the Common Statement at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR), should be tailor-made based on the characteristics of the Indian Ocean and needs of the Indian Ocean countries. Secondly, countries and UN agencies with know-how and technologies must start concrete actions for necessary support in responding requests from the Indian Ocean countries.
Let me reiterate that Japan will give the fullest level of support in three areas, namely financial resources, human resources, and knowledge and expertise toward efforts to address the unprecedented magnitude of damage caused by the tsunamis. As the financial support, Japan has already disbursed in full both US$250 million for bilateral assistance and US$250 million aid through the UN and other international organizations. According to the UN Flash Appeal, International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) in close cooperation with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) required US$8 million to conduct programs to provide knowledge for the establishment of a tsunami early warning system. Japan has already made $4 million contributions for the programs. UNESCO, which operates the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, proposed to hold an experts' meeting at the beginning of March and draw up a blueprint for the establishment of the global system. In addition Japan started coordinating with the countries affected by the recent tsunami to hold a JICA's training course in March with the participation of senior officials in charge of the tsunami early warning system in each affected country, the purpose of which is to share Japan's experience and knowledge related to the earthquake and tsunami warning system and the disaster prevention among related countries. Japan is swiftly carrying out the assistance through international organizations and the bilateral cooperation. With regard to the proposal of the Thai Government to establish a voluntary fund, Japan expects that the proposal will be considered with enough coordination and cooperation with the activities of the UN organizations such as ISDR and UNESCO.
Even though arrived last night here in Phuket, I noticed that the reconstruction of Phuket is proceeding at a rapid speed. It is necessary to show clearly that this town is well prepared for disaster risk for tourists to visit without anxiety. In Japanese coastal resorts, you can find signs simply indicating the evacuation procedure in case of tsunami throughout the town. I believe this kind of know-how in tourist spots in Japan will highly contribute to the reconstruction of each affected tourist sites. The Government of Japan expects that the efforts towards the establichment of tsunami early warning system in the Indian Ocean would promote the return of tourists to Phuket.
Thank you very much.
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