Japan thanks nation at 2011 earthquake commemoration event

Staff writer, with CNA

Mon, Mar 12, 2018 - Page 3

The Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association (JTEA) yesterday expressed gratitude to Taiwan for its assistance during a ceremony to mark the seventh anniversary of the March 11, 2011, earthquake and a tsunami that triggered a nuclear meltdown, leaving more than 18,000 people dead or missing.

A minute of silence for the victims of the disaster was observed at the ceremony, which was presided over by Japanese Representative to Taiwan Mikio Numata. Also in attendance were Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) and Taiwan-Japan Relations Association (TJRA) President Chiou I-jen (邱義仁).

Seven years ago in the wake of the devastating disaster, thenpresident Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) called on Taiwanese to support relief aid and more than ¥20 billion (US$187.4 million at the current exchange rate) was collected, Numata said.

The move highlights the special friendship between Japan and Taiwan and served as a turning point in relations between the two countries, Numata said, taking the opportunity to thank Taiwan again.

Reconstruction work continues in the worst affected areas, including Fukushima Prefecture, which was hit hardest, Numata said, adding that 84 percent of affected farmland has been rehabilitated and that newly harvested produce from the areas is sold across Japan.

Chiou said the hard work of Fukushima residents should serve as an inspiration and encourage victims of the earthquake that on Feb. 6 hit Hualien, leaving 17 dead and over 290 injured, as they seek to rebuild their lives.

Chiou also thanked Japan for its support in the wake of the Hualien earthquake.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) sent prayers to the victims of the March 2011 disaster in a post on Twitter yesterday, saying she hopes that reconstruction work in affected areas can be completed as soon as possible.

Japanese students in Taiwan yesterday established a committee that aims to express gratitude to Taiwan through practical action and designated March 11 as “Taiwan-Japan friendship day.”