Japanese official givespledge to Hawaii ‘rebirth and recovery’
By Malia Zimmerman – Yoshihiko Kamo, Consul General of Japan, addressed a special joint session of the Hawaii State Legislature Tuesday, where he updated lawmakers, the governor and lieutenant governor and Hawaii’s supreme court justices, on the conditions in Japan since the earthquake and tsunami.
Japan media reports more than 27,000 people dead or missing and $300 billion in damage. Last week, the Japanese government approved $49 billion to build infrastructure, construct temporary housing for 100,000, clean up debris and raise the levies. The country is considering tax increases and bonds to raise capital.
Naoto Kan, the Prime Minister of Japan, issued statement through Kamo on Japan’s Road to Recovery and Rebirth, saying the country appreciates support from over 130 countries, nearly 40 international organizations, numerous NGOs, and countless individuals from all parts of the world, and he emphasized the close ties Japan has to America.
“Immediately after the earthquake struck, the U.S., our most important friend and ally, has provided swift cooperation. President Obama kindly called me to convey his strong commitment, confirming that the U.S. stands ready to provide all-out support to the Japanese people during this time of great difficulty. He also reaffirmed that the friendship and alliance between our two nations is unshakeable. So many Japanese citizens, including myself, were enormously encouraged by these remarks.”
The prime minister mentioned assistance from U.S. military and nuclear experts: “From an early stage in the response efforts, U.S. Forces have diligently performed relief activities on multiple fronts as a part of Operation Tomodachi (named after the Japanese word for “friendship”). We have also received the full support of the U.S. in responding to the accidents at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, from providing equipment and other material assistance such as fire trucks and special protective suits, to dispatching nuclear experts and radiation control teams.”
He offered hope through his message: “The Great East Japan Earthquake and the resulting tsunami are the worst natural disasters that Japan has faced since the end of the Second World War. Reconstruction of the devastated Tohoku region will not be easy. However, I believe that this difficult period will provide us with a precious window of opportunity to secure the ‘Rebirth of Japan.’”
After reading the statement, Kamo said, “I want to tell you that Japanese tourists will be back soon. The great earthquake and tsunami made many Japanese refrain from having fun to show condolence and solidarity with the victims.
"With more than 500,000 cancellations, Japan’s domestic tourism suffered a heavy blow. Accordingly, there has emerged a growing apprehension that excessive self-restraint does more harm than good to the stricken area as it slows down the economy. Hawaii’s appeal to Japanese tourists remains unchanged. Nature, people, history, safety, cleanliness, and proximity all contribute to alluring Japanese to Hawaii. You can count on our loyalty.”
Kamo described the sharp drop of foreign visitors to Japan as another serious problem and attributed it to the fear of exposure to radiation.
“Radioactive contamination is largely an on-site and near-site issue,” he added. “A large part of Japan escapes from contamination that poses general threat to the public health. World Health Organization (WHO), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and International Maritime Organization (IMO) have made objective assessments that general travel restriction to Japan is not needed. Going to Japan is not prohibited by any laws. Whether it is Hokkaido or Kyushu, Tokyo or Kyoto, we eagerly await you in Japan and opportunities to reciprocate the hospitality.”
Malia Zimmerman is the editor of Hawaii Reporter
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