Japan to hold remembrance, thank Taiwan for disaster aid


TAIPEI–A series of thank-you activities will be held in Taiwan to show Japan’s gratitude for the country’s disaster relief and to mark the first anniversary of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, a Japanese official stationed in Taipei said Friday. A reception will be held in Taipei March 12 to thank “Taiwanese friends” and brief them on the reconstruction process since the disaster, said Kenichi Okada, secretary-general of the Taipei Office of the Japan Interchange Association. The Interchange Association represents Japanese interests in Taiwan in the absence of official diplomatic ties between the two nations. On March 11, Japan’s representative to Taiwan, Tadashi Imai, will also run a notice in Taiwan’s major daily newspapers to express Japan’s gratitude for the help and generous donations, Okada told CNA in an interview. In the wake of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami that battered northeastern Japan and led to a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Taiwan donated about 20 billion Japanese yen (US$260.64 million) in cash to the quake victims, 90 percent of which came from private donors. Meanwhile, two programs made to thank Taiwan for its help will be broadcast on two Taiwanese TV channels in the coming week, Okada went on, adding that a thank-you commercial will also be shown on several local TV channels. Noting that the number of Japanese visitors to Taiwan posted a record high in 2011 — the year of the disaster — Okada said that “this just shows that Japanese people really love Taiwan and feel grateful for Taiwan’s help.” Okada — who assumed his post last August — said he was touched by the story of six Japanese swimmers who completed a 150-km relay across the West Pacific as a thank-you gesture to Taiwan. Last September, they braced rainy weather and strong currents as their swim took place while a typhoon was approaching. Their determination to complete the mission of gratitude in such a difficult situation “just proved how grateful the Japanese people are to Taiwan,” Okada said.

Japan has learned valuable lessons from the disaster, Okada said, adding that the country should view sharing its experiences with Taiwan and other countries as “its historical obligation.” The Japanese government is also planning to hold an international meeting in northeastern Japan, the area hardest-hit by the disaster, which is aimed at boosting cooperation between countries in disaster relief work.