Sectoral Analysis of the International Situation and Japan's Foreign Policy
Efforts toward the realization of a better global society
H. International emergency assistance for natural disasters
The year 1999 witnessed a string of floods, earthquakes and other large-scale disasters around the world, impacting heavily on the societies and economies of the disaster-stricken countries not least in terms of the massive loss of life. While the governments of these countries are doing their utmost for the relief of disaster victims, the high frequency of such disasters in developing countries in particular, which have fragile social and economic foundations, has obstructed full-fledged relief activities. From a humanitarian perspective, Japan has extended three types of emergency assistance on request from disaster-affected countries or international organizations: dispatch of Japan Disaster Relief Teams, donations of emergency supplies, and emergency grants.
More specifically, over the last year, a number of large-scale natural disasters occurred around the world, including earthquakes in Colombia, Turkey and Taiwan, floods in Vietnam, and torrential rain in Venezuela. Japan accordingly dispatched a total of 11 Japan Disaster Relief Teams, or 289 personnel, comprising three rescue teams (186 personnel), five medical teams (78 personnel), and three emergency relief and recovery advisory teams (25 personnel). The three rescue teams were sent to Colombia in January, Turkey in August, and Taiwan in September, and their responses were all extremely prompt. In all these cases, rescue teams were dispatched on the date of the disaster, which meant a few hours after the request was made. The earthquake in Turkey in particular marked the first instance since the launch of Japan disaster relief and rescue teams that a survivor was successfully rescued. Almost at the same time as the rescue teams, medical teams were also sent to Colombia, Turkey and Taiwan, not only attending to those wounded in the disasters, but also responding sensitively to changing medical needs over the days that followed by engaging in a wide range of medical activities such as internal medicine, pediatrics, and, immediately after the disasters, psychiatric care. Emergency relief and recovery advisory teams sent to Turkey and Taiwan were highly commended by the governments for the advice and guidance which the teams provided in regard to earthquake-proofing and other aspects of emergency reconstruction after the earthquakes. In addition, in the case of the earthquake in Turkey, the "Bungo" and two other Self-Defense Force vessels were used in accordance with the Law Concerning the Dispatch of Japan Disaster Relief Teams to deliver to the afflicted areas 500 temporary housing units donated by Hyogo Prefecture for those who had lost their houses in the disaster.
Nineteen separate packages of emergency supplies were provided (totaling around 460 million yen), including tents, blankets, medical supplies and equipment and other commodities according to the particular nature of the disaster. Japan also supplied 16 emergency grant packages for natural disasters, totaling around 1.01 billion yen. Among these were grants to Japanese NGOs engaged in emergency humanitarian relief activities in response to the earthquakes in Turkey and Taiwan, such as establishing winter heating equipment and temporary housing units for those who had lost their homes.
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