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Speeches and Statements by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi

Address by Junichiro Koizumi
Prime Minister of Japan
At the Special ASEAN Leaders' Meeting
on Aftermath of Earthquake and Tsunami
Jakarta, Indonesia
January 6, 2005

(Provisional Translation)

Honorable Dr. H. Susilo Bambamg Yudhoyono, President of the Republic of Indonesia,
Representatives of the participating countries and international organizations,

1.At the outset, I wish to extend my deepest condolences to those who lost their lives in the tsunami disaster, which was caused by the large-scale earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, and their bereaved families. I also wish to express my sincere respect for all the rescue workers and other men and women, who are making tireless efforts under severe conditions in the disaster-stricken areas.
2.The tsunami disaster has brought severe damage not only to people of the countries that the tsunami hit, but also to a large number of people in other parts of the world including Japan. Damages were particularly serious in Asian countries. Japan has, as a fellow Asian partner, fostered partnership and solidarity with other Asian countries. The pains felt by Asian countries are our own pains. Disaster in Asia is nothing but ours as well.
3.Japan has had its own countless experiences of being struck by natural disasters, including earthquakes and tsunamis. Exactly ten years back from now, a major earthquake hit Kobe, Japan, and precious lives of over six thousand were lost. Recently, another major earthquake struck Niigata, Japan, which also left serious damages. Further back in history, in 1960, a formidable earthquake measuring 9.5 on the Richter scale took place off the coast of Chile, the other side of the globe from Japan. This earthquake caused a huge tsunami, severely damaging Japan's coastal areas facing the Pacific Ocean. Having gone through such experiences, we in Japan cannot help feeling the deepest sympathy to the victims of this recent tsunami disaster.
4.In order to conduct emergency relief and rehabilitation/reconstruction efforts, particularly in the aftermath of a devastating natural disaster like the one we are facing, it is essential that the international community join forces in mobilizing assistance to disaster-stricken countries. Japan also received, in the aftermath of the Kobe earthquake, heart-warming aid from many countries, international organizations and NGOs. Moreover, good-will private donations world-wide were raised for Kobe. Such support from the international community helped people of Kobe overcome the agonies of the disaster and rise up for reconstruction.
5.After the tsunami disaster this time, the international community once again promptly stood up and offered assistance. The "core group" coordination mechanism, launched under the initiative of the United States, has worked very effectively. From now on, the United Nations will take the lead in international assistance efforts. Earlier this morning, His Excellency Secretary General of the United Nations Mr. Kofi Annan issued a Flash Appeal amounting to 977 million dollars. It is encouraging indeed to see that the $2 billion plus of aid pledged thus far by the international community could sufficiently meet the requirements expressed in the Flash Appeal. I call on countries of the world to show solidarity in responding to the UN Appeal to the maximum extent possible, consistent with the Declaration we are going to issue today, and to swiftly put their respective pledges into practice.
6.Japan will provide assistance to the maximum extent possible in three ways: financial resources, human resources, and knowledge and expertise. 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 today's Flash Appeal by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Japan will expeditiously provide $250 million out of the $500 million for assistance to diaster-stricken countries through relevant international organizations. Japan will also extend bilateral grant aid of around $250 million directly to countries severely hit by the disaster. Furthermore, Japan will call on other countries to jointly apply moratorium on public debt services for a certain period of time, when any disaster-stricken country so wishes.
7.With respect to contributions of 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 assistance. Japan has also conducted search and rescue operations by mobilizing the capabilities of the Japan Self Defense Forces. Despite all the efforts by the international community, however, the need for assistance in medical, sanitary, transportation and other fields are still enormous, calling for further deployment of human resources. Hence, Japan is preparing support measures in the field of transport and epidemics prevention in Indonesia, where the damages are particularly severe, by mobilizing the capabilities of the Japan Self Defense Forces. To this end, transport aircraft of the Air Self Defense Forces will leave Japan today.
8.In order to prevent the repetition of the tsunami disaster, Japan will make vigorous efforts, in cooperation with countries and international organizations concerned, to expeditiously establish a Tsunami early warning mechanism for the Indian Ocean countries, modelled upon the one introduced in the Pacific Ocean after the painful lesson of the tsunami disaster caused by the Chile Earthquake in 1960. In Kobe, which was hit by a big earthquake ten years ago, the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Reduction will be held from 18 to 22 January. I propose that a special session on this early warning mechanism be held at the conference to discuss a concrete framework and ways of cooperation including training and holding seminars.
9.The tsunami disaster has caused serious damage to social infrastructures in the disaster-stricken countries. From now onwards, in addition to immediate relief assistance, it is necessary that countries and international organizations concerned will make concerted efforts to provide assistance based upon medium and long term rehabilitation and reconstruction plans which will be laid down taking account of the situations of the respective countries. Japan will extend its maximum possible assistance in this area.
10.In the aftermath of the tsunami disaster, governments and people of the world have provided prompt and vigorous help to the victims of this unprecedented catastrophe, taking the sorrow of the victims as their very own. I sincerely hope that people around the world will further strengthen international cooperation to enhance their preparedness for natural disaster, with a view to opening up a new vista of the future.
Thank you very much.