災害の国際協力 アジア太平洋諸国と連携密に

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Mar. 27, 2011)
Strengthen cooperation with Asia-Pacific nations
災害の国際協力 アジア太平洋諸国と連携密に(3月26日付・読売社説)

Japan, China and South Korea have decided to enhance their cooperation regarding disaster response and nuclear safety, drawing on the lessons of the March 11 Tohoku Pacific Offshore Earthquake and the subsequent accidents at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co.

The three countries agreed on greater cooperation at a meeting of their foreign ministers held March 19 in Kyoto. Details are expected to be decided at working-level talks, and we want discussions to be held as soon as possible.

The day after the massive earthquake and tsunami, South Korea dispatched a rescue dog team to disaster-hit areas, and a short time later sent more than 100 rescue workers.

A 15-member Chinese rescue team arrived two days after the quake.

Such immediate rescue activities, which take advantage of the three nations' proximity as neighboring countries, will be central to the cooperation among Japan, China and South Korea.


Large donations of fuel

South Korea also provided Japan with 500,000 tons of liquefied natural gas that could be used as fuel to run a thermal power station, while China supplied 20,000 tons of gasoline and other fuels.

We hope this assistance from Beijing and Seoul will develop into a mutual assistance framework under which Japan would in turn move quickly with rescue and assistance operations if a large-scale disaster hit China or South Korea.

South Korea also offered boric acid, which can suppress nuclear fission, to help deal with the Fukushima nuclear power station. Seoul has stockpiles of boric acid for use during inspections and repairs at its nuclear power stations, illustrating the usefulness of a three-country system to help each other procure emergency goods at the time of a nuclear accident.

In the case of an accident at a nuclear power station in one country, it is most important to disclose and share information quickly at home and abroad.

A groundless rumor spread in China and South Korea immediately after the start of the crisis that radiation from the Fukushima plant would contaminate the air and seawater.

A country where a nuclear accident has occurred has a responsibility to provide accurate information. The Foreign Ministry has carried information on the quake and tsunami disaster in English, Chinese and Korean on its Web site, but it may need to provide information in many more languages.


Dealing with tsunami critical

Tsunami following the March 11 earthquake caused damage on the U.S. west coast, Indonesia and other locations. How to deal with large tsunami is a common issue for countries facing the Pacific Ocean.

Disaster relief training exercises were held last week in Indonesia with the participation of more than 25 countries, including Australia, India, Southeast Asian countries and the United States.

Organized jointly by the Japanese and Indonesian governments, the field exercise was conducted on the premise that tsunami had caused huge damage, and included drills on evacuation, helicopter transportation and searching for victims trapped under wreckage.

Technical know-how regarding such relief activities will unquestionably be useful in emergencies. These exercises should be made a regular occurrence.

Offers of help have reached Japan from 130 countries around the world, including nations in Europe, Central and South America, the Middle East and Africa, as well as the United States and other Asian countries. We are very grateful, and Japan will always offer a helping hand to those countries when they are in difficulty.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 26, 2011)
(2011年3月26日01時10分 読売新聞)

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