You are here: Home

Japan to Provide Aid to Quake-hit Chile

Adjust font size:

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano responded to a formal request from Chilean President Michelle Bachelet for international assistance on Monday, saying Japan will provide financial aid and emergency supplies to quake-hit Chile.

Speaking at a news conference in Tokyo, Hirano said that US$3 million will be sent in emergency grant aid and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will provide supplies worth up to 30 million yen (US$336,000), such as emergency tents, water purifiers and power generators, which JICA stores in Florida, US for such emergencies.

The Foreign Ministry announced that a three-member medical team consisting of a Foreign Ministry official, a doctor and a JICA staff member will leave Tokyo for Chile in the evening.

Hirano said the size of the team may be increased to up to 20 members pending reports from an initial fact-finding mission.

A Defense Ministry staff member will also accompany the medical delegation to Chile to investigate and report on the situation there.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, initially reluctant to accept aid from certain countries, reversed her stance Monday formalizing Chile's request for international assistance after much of Chile's infrastructure was knocked-out following the magnitude-8.8 earthquake that ravaged the country on Saturday, particularly the city of Concepcion, closest to the quake's epicenter.

According to official tolls more than 700 people have died, with half of the fatalities occurring in Chile's second city, Concepcion, whilst an estimated 2.1 million people have been displaced from their homes, local media sources reported.

Prior to Chile's official call for global assistance, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama speaking outside his official residence early on Monday afternoon said Japan will take the first step and think quickly about the assistance it can provide to Chile.

"The Foreign Ministry has just decided to send an emergency medical team, and it'll be the first step," Hatoyama told the press earlier on Monday.

"Japan will play the roles it should play in reconstruction efforts in the second and third steps," he said, adding that a fact-finding mission has already been sent to Chile to assess the need for Japanese assistance.

The Japanese Red Cross Society sent Naoki Kowaka, a senior official, to Chile on Sunday to observe the situation in collaboration with staff from the International Red Cross. Kowaka is expected to be there for at least one week.

The Foreign ministry said Monday that 26 of the 33 Japanese nationals located in the city of Concepcion at the time of the tremor have been accounted for and are safe. Efforts are being made to locate the remaining 7, the ministry said.

Latest media reports state that the Chilean government has imposed a curfew in the city of Concepcion to curb crime, particularly looting.

Japan has a globally-renown fast-response unit dedicated to providing emergency medical and humanitarian relief in areas struck by natural disasters.

In response to the quake that devastated Haiti on January 12, Japan deployed it's Self defense Force (SDF) to assist with medical efforts and its Ground Self Defense Force (GSDF), to support engineering and peacekeeping missions in the area.

(Xinhua News Agency March 2, 2010)

Related News & Photos