NEWS

Pm Sees Disaster-Hit School Rebuild

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday accompanied his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, on a visit to a high school in Fukushima recently repaired after severe damage caused by an earthquake
19 May 2018 10:25
Pm Sees Disaster-Hit School Rebuild
Residents of Iwaki City greet Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama on his arrival in Fukushima Prefecture. Photo: Sheldon Chanel

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday accompanied his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, on a visit to a high school in Fukushima recently repaired after severe damage caused by an earthquake in 2011.

Iwaki-Kaisei High School was hit by the fourth-largest earthquake in the world since the 1900s, which caused approximately 19,533 confirmed deaths.

But the school has been fully rebuilt and leaders from the Pacific Islands received an insight about some of the measures the Japanese Government took as they reeled from the largest earthquake in the country’s history.

The 15-metre tsunami that followed the magnitude-9 quake caused a nuclear disaster and led to the decommissioning of four plants.

All 18 Pacific Island Country (PICs) leaders, including Australia and New Zealand, were brought to see such sites before bilateral discussions at the 8th Pacific Islands Leader Meeting (PALM 8) formally began.

The visit was Japan’s way of telling the leaders that the country is fully aware of the threat posed by natural disasters and rising sea levels.

During the PALM8 talks, Mr Abe will emphasise disaster preparedness and rising sea levels blamed on climate change.

Fiji has already suffered three cyclones this year.

Japan is expected to add to projects such as the one for reinforcing meteorological training functions in Fiji currently in place.

Japan has already spent more than $US20 billion on climate financing as of 2014.

As Japan tries to strengthen its partnerships with the Pacific Islands, this number could increase.

“As we, the islanders, understand benefits brought by a free and open ocean better than anyone else we need to protect them hand in hand, pass them to the future generations and achieve further prosperity,” said Japan’s foreign minister Taro Kono.

Mr Bainimarama was accompanied by his permanent secretary Yogesh Karan and Minister for Trade, Industry, Tourism and Lands Faiyaz Koya.

Japan’s Minister for Disaster Reconstruction Masayoshi Yoshino Noda expressed his appreciation to the PICs for their support after the tsunami hit.

Governor of Fukushima Prefecture Masao Uchibori said his was grateful of the “important” partnership that Japan had formed with Fiji and South Pacific.

While Iwaki City’s mayor gave a detailed presentation to the Island leaders about the processes before and after the disaster.

These plans included prioritising the construction of housing and a focus on healthcare and psychological support for the survivors.

After the presentation, a group performed a traditional Japanese dance called Jongara that is said to heal the souls of the dead.

At the port, families of the some of the victims were present and all the leaders observed a minute’s silence in remembrance of the dead.

The PALM 8 leaders will meet for a summit and will make a unified declaration relating the meeting’s outcome at the conclusion of the event.

Iwaki City in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, as of April 1, 2018, had a population of 343,258 in 142,265 households and population density of 280 persons per square kilometre, making it the largest city in the prefecture and the 10th largest city in Japan (2010) in terms of area.

Edited by Epineri Vula

 

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