Statement by State Minister Kiuchi at the International Conference on Nepal's Reconstruction
Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Koirala,
Hon. Minister for Foreign Affairs Pandey,
Hon. Finance Minister Mahat,
Distinguished representatives of governments and international organizations, and Ladies and gentlemen,
Two months have passed since a major earthquake struck Nepal. I once again offer my heartfelt condolences to those who perished in the earthquake and extend my sympathies to all those affected. 30% of the victims were said to be children, the bearers of Nepal’s future. As a father of two children myself, I find this utterly heartbreaking. I sincerely hope that children will be able to attend school again and people return to their daily lives as soon as possible.
Four years ago, Japan also experienced an unprecedented major earthquake, and 20,000 precious lives were lost. On that occasion Japan received 5,000 blankets from the people of Nepal, and Nepalese people living in Japan prepared and distributed curries in disaster-stricken areas. For that very reason, Japan feels a special compassion and solidarity in connection with this latest earthquake in Nepal.
The movement to support Nepal has spread all over Japan. I have heard that among all Nepalese embassies across the world, the embassy in Tokyo has received the largest amount of donations. A lot of people in Hamamatsu city, my constituency, are also eager to be of help for the people of Nepal. Today, I have brought to Nepal such warm feelings of the Japanese people.
As a friend in Asia, Japan intends to work closely with Nepal and implement as much assistance as possible, until the day comes when Nepal’s restoration is complete.
Japan appreciates the initiatives taken by the Nepalese Government, in particular Prime Minister Koirala, who is hosting this International Conference today.
Yesterday I was able to visit some disaster-affected areas, and I share the pain caused by the earthquake and people’s strong desire for recovery. In addition, I renewed my desire to work towards the recovery, together with the Government of Nepal.
Immediately after the earthquake struck Nepal, Japan sent experts from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism to provide cooperation for formulating a medium and long-term reconstruction master plan and earthquake-resistant building standards. Furthermore, based on the Build Back Better (BBB) concept that was one of the outcomes of the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, Japan has been providing suggestions and advice on matters such as achieving improved earthquake resistance with small reinforcements that utilize local materials, and designing and building schools and public facilities that can be used as evacuation sites during times of disaster.
In order to put this concept into practice on-site and across the nation, and taking into account the PDNA, Japan intends to provide assistance totaling 260 million USD, mainly in the following three areas, as support that is needed for the time being.
The first area is “schools.” 7,000 schools were completely or significantly damaged nationwide by this earthquake. Japan will work closely with the ADB in rebuilding schools that are earthquake resistant in order to bring Nepal’s children back to school with smiles on their faces, as well as to protect children from earthquakes that might occur in the future.
The second area is “housing.” In the PDNA, house damage is said to account for half the total damage. Japan will work closely with the World Bank for the construction of houses that meet earthquake-resistant building standards and offer the best value for money possible. JICA is currently giving a Demo-Construction on Seismic Strengthened BBB Model House within the hotel premises, so please drop by during the coffee break.
The third area is “community infrastructure.” Japan is extending cooperation by using earthquake-proof reinforcements to strengthen public facilities such as local government buildings and hospitals, and infrastructure such as roads and bridges so that as many lives as possible can be saved in case of a future disaster.
In the BBB concept, it is important to achieve a more resilient, better reconstruction, as opposed to simply returning to the way things were. With BBB as the underlying theme, Japan will also assist formulating disaster risk reduction plans for resilient cities, developing disaster resilient infrastructure, and enhancing capacity of regional disaster risk reduction.
Furthermore, repairing the country’s cultural heritage is also important. Nepal is home to much cultural heritage, including the World Heritage Sites of the Kathmandu Valley. Along with being important tourism resources, these heritages are also the national pride of the Nepalese people. Including collaboration with the UNESCO, Japan will provide as much cooperation as possible on restoring cultural heritage as well.
Along with seamless support extending from emergency and humanitarian phase through to recovery and reconstruction from a medium- to long-term perspective, BBB is essential. Japan will carry out as much support as possible. From this standpoint, we support holding a second conference in order to realize a more resilient recovery in Nepal. Japan is ready to co-organize the second conference as well.
We are witnessing the ongoing efforts in Nepal to consolidate a democracy, including formulating a new constitution, and those efforts must not be hindered by the earthquake disaster. I welcome the agreement reached among the four major political parties on formulating a new constitution, and strongly hope that it will be concluded promptly, unencumbered by the earthquake disaster. One could say that Nepal is engaging in nation-building on two fronts simultaneously - rebuilding from the earthquake disaster and formulating a new constitution.
Japan, as a true friend of Nepal, will strongly support Nepal’s endeavor as it challenges to climb these steep mountain trails. Japan is determined to help bear Nepal’s heavy burden alongside it, right up to the summit. I am confident that, in the future, Nepal will be reborn as an even more beautiful, more dynamic, and resilient country. Japan will continue to extend its utmost support until that day comes.
Thank you very much.