JapanGov Weekly

Monday, March 18, 2019

Memorial Ceremony Marking the Eighth Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake

Cabinet Secretariat, Monday, March 11, 2019

[Provisional Translation]

On March 11, 2019, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended the Memorial Ceremony Marking the Eighth Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, held in Tokyo in the presence of Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Akishino.

Following the moment of silence, the Prime Minister delivered an address.

This was followed by the address given by His Imperial Highness Prince Akishino. Afterwards, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President of the House of Councillors, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court gave their memorial addresses. The representatives of the bereaved family members delivered addresses, and then the participants offered flowers.


Address by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Memorial Ceremony Marking the Eighth Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake

Cabinet Secretariat, Monday, March 11, 2019

[Provisional Translation]

In the gracious presence of Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Akishino, it is with the deepest respect that I, representing the Government of Japan, express my condolences on the occasion of the Memorial Ceremony Marking the Eighth Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Eight years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake, which caused unprecedented damage centered on northeast Japan and claimed many precious lives.

When I think of the despair of those who lost beloved members of their families and friends in the disaster, I am overwhelmed even now with deep sorrow. It is with my deepest sympathy that I reiterate my sincerest condolences. I would also like to extend my heartfelt sympathies to all those who have been affected by the disaster.

With the passage of eight years since the disaster, I can see that reconstruction of the affected regions is making visible progress. In areas that were affected by the earthquake and tsunami, the reconstruction is advancing towards its final stage. The restoration of infrastructure required for everyday life is nearly complete, while the rebuilding of homes is also expected to be almost completed by the end of this fiscal year.

In areas of Fukushima that were significantly affected by the accident at the nuclear power plant, evacuation orders are being lifted in almost all areas, except from the difficult-to-return-to zone. Progress is also being made in the re-establishment of the living environment as we move towards full-scale reconstruction. At the same time, reconstruction and revitalization work has begun in some of the difficult-to-return-to zone and activities that will enable us to lift more evacuation orders are gathering pace.

Nevertheless, even today, 14,000 people still have to live in temporary housing facilities, and many people have endured uncomfortable lives for a long period of time.

Aware of the circumstances of each and every one of the people affected by the disaster, the government will continue to undertake reconstruction work with a commitment to providing seamless support through the various stages of livelihood rehabilitation and further accelerate the reconstruction work. This support includes tasks such as maintaining both the psychological and physical well-being of the people, providing support for the reconstruction of homes and rehabilitating livelihoods, as well as securing an educational environment in which children can both learn and have peace of mind. In regions affected by the nuclear disaster, we will continue to develop a living environment that will permit people to return to their communities and to support the revitalization of local industries and livelihoods.

At the same time, we must never let the valuable lessons that we have learned from the enormous damage caused by the disaster to fade away. We will ceaselessly review disaster-prevention and mitigation measures that will save the lives of Japanese people in the future. Once again, I would like to make a firm pledge that from now onwards we will continue to exert our efforts in every field, both in the hard and soft aspects, to build a strong and resilient nation that is resistant to disasters during the next intensive three-year period.

Since the earthquake, reconstruction has made progress thanks to the tremendous efforts of the local people and countless related parties. Much warm support and assistance poured in from countries and regions around the world. Representatives of many of those places are present here today and I would like once again to express our sincere gratitude as well as our respect.

It is our responsibility to share with other countries and regions the lessons of the Great East Japan Earthquake, as well as disaster prevention knowledge and technology that can all be instrumental in minimizing future disasters. We will further strengthen our international contributions in the field of disaster prevention.

In the past, our nation suffered countless disasters that could be described as national crises. Each time, we overcame them with determination and hope. I vow once again that we will follow hand-in-hand in the footsteps of our forefathers and continue to move forward.

In concluding, I would like to offer my heartfelt prayers for the eternal repose of the souls of those who lost their lives and I pray for the peace and tranquility of their bereaved family members.

Shinzo Abe
Prime Minister of Japan
March 11, 2019


Visit to Iwate Prefecture

Cabinet Secretariat, Saturday, March 9, 2019

[Provisional Translation]

On March 9, 2019, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Iwate Prefecture.

In Kamaishi Town, Prime Minister Abe attended the formal opening of the Sanriku Coast Road and the Tohoku Throughway. Then, the Prime Minister inspected the operation training of a train car at Kamaishi Station. In the afternoon, the Prime Minister visited Kamaishi Unosumai Memorial Stadium, where he saw children practicing rugby. Afterwards, the Prime Minister visited a commercial facility in Ofunato City, followed by his visit to a restaurant in Rikuzentakata City, where he interacted with members of the local community.

After the visit, the Prime Minister said,

“Today I visited Kamaishi, Ofunato, and Rikuzentakata. Eight years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake struck these cities. The people of the disaster-affected areas have faced many difficulties over these eight years. Against this backdrop, vigorous efforts made by everyone here have resulted in the opening of roads and railways as well as a commercial facility. It is thanks to the hard work of these people that have steadily advanced the reconstruction of these areas. I had an opportunity to witness it with my own eyes today.

It is half a year until the Rugby World Cup kick off which will bring people from all over the world to Kamaishi. I have high hopes that a series of exciting games at the Kamaishi Unosumai Memorial Stadium would give hope to children and bolster efforts for reconstruction and development.

Here at the Riku Café, I heard from people working on the health and mental support of those affected by the disaster. We all must thoroughly work on all the various tasks we are engaged in, such as maintaining the psychological well-being of the residents. Moving forward, we intend to establish a succeeding body under the responsibility and leadership of politicians so that the government continues to work as one and to exert all-out efforts to complete reconstruction at the earliest possible date.

We will continue to thoroughly focus on local communities, listen to the voices of those affected by the disaster and incorporate them to the reconstruction process. Thank you very much.”


Message of condolences from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe following the shooting incident in Christchurch, New Zealand

Foreign Affairs, Friday, March 15, 2019

On March 15, following the shooting incident in the mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan sent the following message of condolences to Rt. Hon. Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand.

“Dear Prime Minister Ardern,

Japan firmly condemns the atrocious shooting carried out in Christchurch on 15th March. On behalf of the Government and people of Japan, I extend my sincere condolences to those who lost their lives and express heartfelt sympathy for their bereaved families and those injured.

Japan expresses its sincere solidarity with the people of New Zealand in overcoming this difficult time.

Terrorism cannot be justified for any reason. In close cooperation with New Zealand and the international community, Japan is determined to resolutely stand up against terrorism.


Japan-Palau Summit Meeting and Other Events

Cabinet Secretariat, Friday, March 8, 2019

[Provisional Translation]

On March 8, 2019, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a summit meeting and other events with H.E. Mr. Tommy E. Remengesau Jr., President of the Republic of Palau, at the Prime Minister’s Office.

The two leaders attended a salute and guard of honor ceremony, followed by a summit meeting. Afterwards, the leaders held a signing ceremony and a joint press announcement.


Japan-Palau Summit Meeting and Dinner

Foreign Affairs, Friday, March 8, 2019

On 8th March, commencing at 6:15p.m. for approximately 35 minutes, Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, held a meeting and hosted dinner with H.E. Mr. Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr., President of the Republic of Palau, during his official working visit to Japan. The overview is as follows.

1. Prime Minister Abe welcomed the President Remengesau’s visit to Japan, stated that he would like to further develop the relationship with Palau which is the special friend of Japan with historical bond at this occasion of 25th Year Anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relationship between Japan and Palau this year. In response, President Remengesau expressed his gratitude for the warm welcome and showed appreciation for the friendship between both countries which is continuing for even more than 25 years.

2. Both leaders discussed about the cooperation for strong and sustainable development of Palau. Prime Minister Abe stated that Japan will continue to cooperate with Palau for the realization of the“free-and-open Indo Pacific” including maritime security and connectivity through discussions with Palau. In concrete, both leaders attended the signing ceremony on grant aid regarding the provision of motorboats and floating markers as assistance towards the fields of maritime security and fishery, and Japan’s new assistance towards disaster prevention and reduction was announced. President Remengesau expressed his gratitude towards the long lasting assistance by Japan.

3. Both leaders discussed the way to further develop Japan and Palau’s strong bilateral relationship. Prime Minister Abe expressed his idea of promoting trade, investment and tourism through the economic mission to Palau and a business seminar. On the other hand, President Remengesau expressed his high hope for the promotion of economic exchanges among private sectors. In addition, both leaders confirmed to continue cooperating on the recovery of the remains of the war dead, the stable operation of the Japanese fishing vessels, and people-to-people exchanges including those of young generations.

4. Both leaders discussed regional situations such as North Korea. In addition, Prime Minister Abe requested Palau’s understanding and cooperation on the early resolution of the abduction issue to which President Remengesau showed his support.

5. Both leaders agreed to contribute to the stability and prosperity of the Pacific Island Region by strongly developing bilateral relationship hand-in-hand, taking this opportunity of President Remengesau’s visit to Japan.

6. The dinner which followed the meeting was done in a friendly atmosphere, and wide range of issues were discussed.


Joint Meeting of the Reconstruction Promotion Council and the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters

Cabinet Secretariat, Friday, March 8, 2019

[Provisional Translation]

On March 8, 2019, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe jointly held the 22nd meeting of the Reconstruction Promotion Council and the 48th meeting of the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters at the Prime Minister’s Office.

During the meeting, there was discussion on the current situation and issues in the eight years of reconstruction, progress on Fukushima’s reconstruction from the nuclear disaster, and the revision of the Basic Guidelines in Response to the Great East Japan Earthquake during the “Reconstruction and Revitalization Period.”

Based on the discussion in the meeting, the Prime Minister said,

“Reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake is a top priority of the Cabinet. Almost ight years have passed since the disaster. We are entering a critical stage which paves a firm path towards the full-scale reconstruction of Fukushima, the wrap-up of our reconstruction efforts.

Thanks to the efforts that have been made so far, the reconstruction process is making steady progress. At the same time, the conditions surrounding the disaster-affected areas and people are diversifying in nature and our responses need a more tailored approach.

I request all the Cabinet members to exert your all-out efforts to complete full-scale reconstruction at the earliest possible date, over the course of the remaining two years of the reconstruction and revitalization period.

Meanwhile, even after the reconstruction and revitalization period ends, we must thoroughly work on the various tasks at hand such as maintaining psychological well-being of the people affected by the disaster. In addition, we need to work on the reconstruction and revitalization of Fukushima, which includes the decommissioning of the nuclear power plants and decontamination of water, with mid- to long-term perspectives, and the government needs to take the lead over these efforts.

In light of such circumstances, today, we reviewed the Basic Guidelines on Reconstruction, and outlined the direction of our reconstruction work after the reconstruction and revitalization period ends. I ask the Cabinet members to make the needed projects take shape following this direction, working with the Minister for Reconstruction.

In particular, with respect to the body which will succeed the Reconstruction Agency, I ask the Cabinet Minister to proceed with relevant foundational work towards the materialization of an organ which will act as a control tower, like the current agency, to eliminate government silos, and to achieve full-scale reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake under the political responsibility and leadership.

There will be no revitalization of Japan without the reconstruction of Tohoku. We will listen to the voices of those affected by the disaster and incorporate them into the reconstruction process. I, myself, will visit Iwate Prefecture tomorrow. Our focus on local communities is the starting point of the Abe Cabinet. I request the Cabinet members to share the mindset of and work like a Minister for Reconstruction and exert all-out efforts to achieve full-scale reconstruction at the earliest date possible, paying close attention to the heart of those who are affected by the disaster.”


Council on Investments for the Future

Cabinet Secretariat, Thursday, March 7, 2019

[Provisional Translation]

On March 7, 2019, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held the 24th meeting of the Council on Investments for the Future at the Prime Minister’s Office.

At the meeting, a discussion was held on mobility and corporate governance.

Based on the discussion, the Prime Minister said,

“Today, we first discussed mobility, modes of transportation in local communities. Amidst the high dependency on automobiles as a mode of transportation, especially in areas outside major cities, there has been a severe issue of taxi driver shortage. Mobility is a key pillar of Society 5.0. With regard to paid transportation services using private cars, it is necessary to review the current system so as to make it easier to use based on the users’ perspective. Collaborations with taxi operators reduce the burdens of municipalities and make possible safe services from the standpoint of users; they are beneficial for both sides.

Therefore, we intend to seek legislation which simplifies the procedures when taxi operators are to provide outsourcing service or participate in as service providers. These transportation services will be provided not only to local residents but also to tourists, aiming at the era of welcoming 40 million visitors from overseas a year. Furthermore, with respect to taxi services, we will make it possible by introducing ridesharing, including the utilization of IT, so that users can ride a taxi with inexpensive fee. With respect to drones, we also intend to expand out-of-view flights of drones. I would like the Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport to work with Minister Motegi to proceed detailed considerations with a view to incorporate them into the action plan for the growth strategy which we will compile this summer.

Secondly, we also held discussions on corporate governance. While the Abe Cabinet is highly praised by both domestic and foreign investors due to its corporate governance reforms, we are requested to further strengthen our reform efforts aligned with global standards, so as to further improve the competitiveness and modernity of Japanese corporations. In particular, there is criticism from investors that the governance reform of listing subsidiaries with controlling parent companies remains untouched. There is a possibility that trust of the Japanese market will be damaged. We will therefore swiftly formulate new guidelines and request accountability of parent companies, while encouraging subsidiary companies to increase the proportion of external directors, who are independent from the controlling shareholder. We will also consider relevant measures including the criteria used by the Tokyo Stock Exchange. I ask Minister Aso and Minister Seko to work with Minister Motegi to carry out detailed considerations with a view to incorporate them into the action plan for the growth strategy which we will compile this summer.”


Dinner between Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan and H.E. Mr. Mamuka Bakhtadze, Prime Minister of Georgia

Foreign Affairs, Wednesday, March 13, 2019

On March 13, commencing at around 8:30 p.m.for approximately 70 minutes, Mr. Taro Kono, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, hosted a dinner with H.E. Mr. Mamuka Bakhtadze, Prime Minister of Georgia, who is visiting Japan. The overview is as follows.

At the beginning of the dinner, Minister Kono expressed his pleasure for the second meeting with Prime Minister Bakhtadze following their meeting in Georgia on the occasion of the former’s visit to that country last September. Minister Kono also stated that Japan is willing to further enhance cooperation with Georgia, which shares with Japan fundamental values such as freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

Prime Minister Bakhtadze stated that he welcomes steady progress of the bilateral relations. He also expressed his expectation that Japan-Georgia business forum on March 15 and the Georgia wine exhibition would make opportunities for prompt stronger bonds between two countries.

Both sides confirmed and welcomed the substantial conclusion of negotiations on the main text of the investment agreement between two countries. Both sides also confirmed their willingness to cooperation in remaining works toward the prompt conclusion of the agreement.

Both sides exchanged views on cooperation in international fora and regional issues.


Statement on Monetary Policy

Bank of Japan, Friday, March 15, 2019

1. At the Monetary Policy Meeting held today, the Policy Board of the Bank of Japan decided upon the following.

(1) Yield curve control
The Bank decided, by a 7-2 majority vote, to set the following guideline for market operations for the intermeeting period. [Note 1]
The short-term policy interest rate:
The Bank will apply a negative interest rate of minus 0.1 percent to the Policy-Rate
Balances in current accounts held by financial institutions at the Bank.
The long-term interest rate:
The Bank will purchase Japanese government bonds (JGBs) so that 10-year JGB
yields will remain at around zero percent. While doing so, the yields may move upward and downward to some extent mainly depending on developments in economic activity and prices.1 With regard to the amount of JGBs to be purchased, the Bank will conduct purchases in a flexible manner so that their amount outstanding will increase at an annual pace of about 80 trillion yen.

(2) Guidelines for asset purchases
With regard to asset purchases other than JGB purchases, the Bank decided, by a unanimous vote, to set the following guidelines.

a) The Bank will purchase exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and Japan real estate investment trusts (J-REITs) so that their amounts outstanding will increase at annual paces of about 6 trillion yen and about 90 billion yen, respectively. With a view to lowering risk premia of asset prices in an appropriate manner, the Bank may increase or decrease the amount of purchases depending on market conditions.

b) As for CP and corporate bonds, the Bank will maintain their amounts outstanding at about 2.2 trillion yen and about 3.2 trillion yen, respectively.

2. Japan's economy is expanding moderately, with a virtuous cycle from income to spending operating, although exports and production have been affected by the slowdown in overseas economies. Overseas economies have been growing moderately on the whole, although slowdowns have been observed. In this situation, exports have shown some weakness recently. On the domestic demand side, business fixed investment has continued on an increasing trend, with corporate profits and business sentiment staying at favorable levels on the whole. Private consumption has been increasing moderately, albeit with fluctuations, against the background of steady improvement in the employment and income situation. Meanwhile, housing investment has been more or less flat. Public investment also has been more or less flat, remaining at a relatively high level. Reflecting these developments in demand both at home and abroad, industrial production has been on a moderate increasing trend, although it has shown some weakness recently. Labor market conditions have continued to tighten steadily. Financial conditions are highly accommodative. On the price front, the year-on-year rate of change in the consumer price index (CPI, all items less fresh food) is in the range of 0.5-1.0 percent. Inflation expectations have been more or less unchanged.

3. With regard to the outlook, Japan's economy is likely to continue its moderate expansion, despite being affected by the slowdown in overseas economies for the time being. Domestic demand is likely to follow an uptrend, with a virtuous cycle from income to spending being maintained in both the corporate and household sectors, mainly against the background of highly accommodative financial conditions and the underpinnings through government spending. Although exports are projected to show some weakness for the time being, they are expected to be on a moderate increasing trend on the back of overseas economies growing moderately on the whole. The year-on-year rate of change in the CPI is likely to increase gradually toward 2 percent, mainly on the back of the output gap remaining positive and medium- to long-term inflation expectations rising. [Note 2]

4. Risks to the outlook include the following: the U.S. macroeconomic policies and their impact on global financial markets; the consequences of protectionist moves and their effects; developments in emerging and commodity-exporting economies including the effects of the two aforementioned factors; negotiations on the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union (EU) and their effects; and geopolitical risks.

5. The Bank will continue with "Quantitative and Qualitative Monetary Easing (QQE) with Yield Curve Control," aiming to achieve the price stability target of 2 percent, as long as it is necessary for maintaining that target in a stable manner. It will continue expanding the monetary base until the year-on-year rate of increase in the observed CPI (all items less fresh food) exceeds 2 percent and stays above the target in a stable manner. As for policy rates, the Bank intends to maintain the current extremely low levels of short- and long-term interest rates for an extended period of time, taking into account uncertainties regarding economic activity and prices including the effects of the consumption tax hike scheduled to take place in October 2019. It will examine the risks considered most relevant to the conduct of monetary policy and make policy adjustments as appropriate, taking account of developments in economic activity and prices as well as financial conditions, with a view to maintaining the momentum toward achieving the price stability target. [Note 3]


Remarks by Governor Kuroda at the B20 Tokyo Summit (Toward Inclusive and Sustainable Development)

Bank of Japan, Friday, March 15, 2019

Full details are available in the source link.


The 4th Japan-Australia Cyber Policy Dialogue Joint Statement

Foreign Affairs, Friday, March 8, 2019

1. The 4th Japan-Australia Cyber Policy Dialogue was held in Canberra on 22 February 2019. The Dialogue reflects both countries' continued commitment to address key bilateral, regional and global cyber issues. The whole of government meeting was co-chaired by Dr Tobias Feakin, Ambassador for Cyber Affairs, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and Mr Masato Otaka, Ambassador in charge of Cyber Policy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA). Participating officials, on the Japanese side, included the National Center of Incident Readiness and Strategy for Cybersecurity; National Security Secretariat; Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office; National Police Agency; Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications; MOFA; Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry; Ministry of Defense; and JPCERT/CC. On the Australian side there were participating officials from DFAT; Department of Home Affairs; Australian Cyber Security Centre; Australian Federal Police; Department of Defence; Department of Communications and the Arts; Austrade; and Digital Transformation Agency.

2. The multi-agency Dialogue provided the opportunity for both countries to deepen their understanding of each other's cyber security priorities, and efforts to deal with cyber threats. Discussions included an exchange of views on key issues regarding cyber threat trends, national cyber security efforts and cooperation in cyber security in a bilateral, regional and multinational context.

3. Japan and Australia reaffirmed their commitment to continue to enhance cooperation and information sharing on responses to malicious cyber activities, including deterring and responding to significant cyber incidents, consistent with relevant domestic and international law. This cooperation strengthens the strategic framework of international cyber stability, consisting of the applicability of existing international law to state behaviour in cyberspace, adherence to agreed voluntary norms of responsible state behaviour during peacetime, and the development and implementation of practical cyber confidence building measures between states, supported by coordinated capacity building programs. In this regard, Japan and Australia reaffirmed their commitment to work collaboratively on cyber capacity building across the region.

4. Japan and Australia also reaffirmed their commitment to cooperate further on supply chain and IoT security.

5. Japan and Australia reaffirmed their commitment to cooperate in multilateral forums on the further elaboration of international law and norms, confidence building measures and capacity building measures. This includes discussions in the United Nations, the G20, and the ASEAN Regional Forum Inter-Sessional Meeting on Security of and in the Use of Information and Communication Technologies (ARF-ISM on ICTs Security).

6. Japan and Australia plan to hold the 5th Japan-Australia Cyber Policy Dialogue in Japan in 2020.


Sharing the Great East Japan Earthquake Experience in Indonesia: Supporting Sulawesi’s Reconstruction Plan

JICA, Monday, March 11, 2019

It has been eight years since the Great East Japan Earthquake struck. Even today, the affected areas in Tohoku continue to face various challenges to recovery, such as regional industry and community restoration, as well as collective relocation.

In that context, JICA is partnering with local governments in the affected areas and sharing their experiences with developing countries that have also been severely affected by earthquakes and tsunamis, with the aim of advancing recovery initiatives together. To assist disaster recovery efforts in the Central Sulawesi Province in Indonesia, in January of this year JICA launched a new technical cooperation project. In order to promote appropriate and efficient reconstruction projects and develop infrastructure and communities that are more disaster-resilient, through the cooperation, JICA is supposed to make use of the recovery experiences and lessons learned by Higashi Matsushima City in Miyagi Prefecture and Kamaishi City in Iwate Prefecture as one of its references.

Higashi Matsushima City and Kamaishi City staff convey their experiences with “resident-driven recovery mechanisms”

JICA held “Seminar on Accelerating Recovery and Reconstruction in Central Sulawesi” in Indonesia in Palu on the island of Sulawesi and in Jakarta on February 11 and 12. Speaking to local administrators, three staff members from Higashi Matsushima City in Miyagi Prefecture and Kamaishi City in Iwate Prefecture reported on their respective initiatives that focused on resident-driven recovery efforts.

The Sulawesi earthquake of September 2018 caused untold damage, with over 2,700 dead or missing and approximately 100,000 houses destroyed (as of January 8, 2019). In the wake of the tsunami and landslides triggered by soil liquefaction, the collective relocation of residents from the affected areas is one major challenge. Higashi Matsushima City and Kamaishi City also faced similar resident collective relocation issues in areas heavily damaged by the tsunami after the earthquake, and learned a lot of lessons from that experience.

At the seminar, Takafumi Kawaguchi, a chief at Higashi Matsushima City’s Recovery Policy Section, emphasized, “In the relocation site selection process, we focused on the proposals that came from all the residents.” Kawaguchi noted that they were able to get a more than 80% approval rate from residents at the relocation planning stage. “A resident-driven mechanism creation process is essential to forming a consensus on a reconstruction plan,” he stressed.

Hisashi Konno, an assistant director at Kamaishi City’s Recovery Promotion Division Secretariat, shared an example where discussions with residents were insufficient initially, as the city proceeded quickly with its recovery efforts. This made it difficult to establish a consensus. Konno said, “With urban planning, it is best to proceed while remembering that ‘haste makes waste.’ Careful discussions with residents hold the key to recovery.” In Kamaishi City’s case, a wide range of experts from different fields, including those in medical, welfare, economic and construction disciplines, joined recovery policy discussions. Konno also talked about how they acted as a bridge to link residents and administrations.

Seminar participant Mr. Syaifullah Djafar, Head of Road and Spatial Planning Office, Central Province, said, “While Indonesia and Japan have different cultures and ways of thinking, my impression is that dialogue between local governments and residents is extremely important for advancing steady progress in recovery.”

JICA provides comprehensive support for Sulawesi recovery efforts

To support the formulation and implementation of Sulawesi’s reconstruction plan, in January of this year JICA started “The Project for Development of Regional Disaster Risk Resilience Plan in Central Sulawesi.” In response to a request for assistance made by the Indonesian government shortly after the disaster struck in 2018, JICA dispatched a mission to survey the local situation and held extensive discussions with Indonesia’s National Development Planning Agency.

While making use of the knowledge gained and lessons learned from the Great East Japan Earthquake recovery, in addition to formulation of plan for disaster-resistant infrastructure, land use and building regulations, JICA is comprehensively supporting disaster-resilient town planning that factors in the revival of regional industries and community rehabilitation.

In charge of the Project Takahiro Izumi of JICA’s Infrastructure and Peacebuilding Department said, “We regard recovery of victims’ daily lives as a priority. ‘Hard’ aspects like infrastructure are where discussions tend to concentrate. While these are important, ‘soft’ aspects such as reviving livelihoods and rehabilitating communities are also crucial for therecovery of victims’ daily lives. In cooperation with Higashi Matsushima City and Kamaishi City, we would like to support the rapid improvement of people’s lives in Indonesia.”

“Mutual reconstruction” of communities affected by the Sumatra Coast Major Earthquake and Higashi Matsushima brings tourists and other benefits

JICA has been sharing its experiences acquired from the Great East Japan Earthquake with developing countries.

Starting in 2013, JICA teamed up with Higashi Matsushima City, and as a grass roots technical cooperation project, supported reconstruction efforts in Indonesia’s Banda Aceh in Aceh Province, which suffered devastation from the 2004 earthquake off the coast of Sumatra and tsunami in the Indian Ocean.

As both cities share industries in common including fishing and tourism, city workers and residents visited each other’s disaster sites. As a result of continued opinion exchanges and on-site experiences, and by making use of tourism initiatives that incorporate fishing and local resources, a movement in Banda Aceh to attract people came about. The exchange also led to the operation of joint farms and the holding of regional product sales events.

A variety of events were also held in Higashi Matsushima City after residents returned from visits to Banda Aceh. Furthermore, with trainees from Banda Aceh coming to Japan to study fishing techniques, cooperative activities have helped foster youth development in the city. Kawaguchi, the chief at Higashi Matsushima City’s Recovery Policy Section, said, “We experienced similar damage, and by observing our steady and continued efforts toward recovery, we stimulate each other. Our activities have provided us with an opportunity to re-examine ourselves.”

Aminullah Usman, Mayor of Banda Aceh, expressing his hopes, said, “Based on what our trainees learned in Higashi Matsushima, oyster farming, basket fishing, farming and other visible economic activities are now getting on track. Banda Aceh faces high unemployment and poverty, and we would like to maintain our cooperative relationship with Higashi Matsushima to help address these issues.”