Diplomatic Bluebook 2014 Summary
Japan’s Foreign Policy that Takes a PanoramicPerspective of the World Map
Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), which devastated the central Philippines on November 8, 2013, was extremely powerful, categorized as a “super typhoon.” Storm surges and violent winds caused considerable damage to the northern part of Leyte and southern areas of Samar. The destruction was widely reported in Japan, and for many the memories are still fresh.
Japan and the Philippines have over the years built a relationship of friendship and cooperation, and in recent years this relationship has become closer, developing into a “strategic partnership.” In view of this relationship and to provide as much assistance as possible, Japan sent its largest ever disaster relief team, including around 1,200 personnel from the Japan Self- Defense Forces. We also sent emergency supplies, and provided emergency grant aid. The Philippines sent supplies and medical teams to aid Japan following the Great East Japan Earthquake, so in a sense this was a way for Japan to repay that kindness.
The medical team sent to the afflicted areas as part of the Japan Disaster Relief (JDR) treated approximately 3,300 people between November 15 and December 9, mainly in the city of Tacloban in Leyte, one of the worst-hit areas. I accompanied the first medical team. Transportation routes were disrupted immediately after the disaster, and we carefully surveyed the security situation as we moved into the area. We were one of the first international teams to arrive, and a large number of people, mainly with external injuries, lined up outside the medical center we set up in the town square. The medical team brought x-ray devices and other types of advanced medical equipment, which were effective in the field, and in one case, helped find a foreign object stuck in a woman’s leg. We also sent personnel to the regional hospital in Basey in the south of Samar for the day, providing care for local citizens. The team’s efforts were highly praised by local people, and we received letters of appreciation from the doctors who had assisted at regional hospitals immediately after the disaster. Our activities attracted considerable interest within the Philippines, and as a Tagalog speaker I was interviewed by local media several times. Japan will continue to provide the Philippines with aid for recovery and restoration over the longer term.
Second Southeast Asia Division, Southeast and Southwest Asian Affairs Department
(Deputy Head of First Medical Team, Japan Disaster Relief)