Japan to continue development aid to Phl despite earthquake, tsunami

Published by rudy Date posted on March 27, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – While struggling in the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that hit their nation, Japan continues to support the development of conflict-affected areas in Mindanao as shown in the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development (J-BIRD).

In fact, Japanese Ambassador Makoto Katsura signed nine grant contracts for various social development projects in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao last Friday at the Astoria Plaza Hotel in Pasig City.

These projects are the fifth batch of the assistance to the Philippines under J-BIRD, funded through the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP).

This new package of assistance includes the construction of five school buildings, two training centers, a floating school, and a post-harvest facility.

Katsura said in his speech that “Japan is still struggling in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami. However, we know that the people in Mindanao are also making an effort to live under difficult conditions. Japan continues its support for the bright future of these people.”

“When I saw the children’s smiles at the newly-constructed school buildings, I felt that the dividends of peace were steadily shared at the grassroots level,” Katsura said.

Since its launching, Japan has supported 50 grassroots projects worth $3.8 million (about P 217 million).

J-BIRD was launched in 2006 to pursue Japan’s commitment to the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

No huge effect

Meantime, Japan embassy head of chancery Minister Shinsuke Shimizu stressed that Japan was not reduced to zero in response to worries on the effects of the earthquake and tsunami.

Shimizu said in an interview that the effects on the areas hardly hit by the tsunami will not have a “huge” effect on the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

“There’s a positive side of this disaster. As we begin reconstruction, the demand for construction materials and labor will also increase,” Shimizu told The STAR.

He said the government has ordered the destruction of agricultural products like spinach and milk from the areas near the nuclear plants in Fukushima and three other prefectures as a precautionary measure.

“We emphasize that these foods, spinach and milk, are still not harmful. The level of radiation is not harmful but as a precautionary measure, the farmers can’t bring out their products,” Shimizu said.

“The government promised to compensate the farmers for financial loss,” he said.

Philippine donation

In a related development, Ambassador Manuel Lopez met with Japan’s State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Yutaka Banno last Friday to convey that the Philippines would send more than 10.11 metric tons of relief supplies, which have since arrived.

The shipment of relief supplies is based on the needs identified and requested by Japan and is part of the Philippines’ standing commitment to assist in the humanitarian efforts in the areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami, Lopez said.

Lopez also reiterated the profound condolences and sympathies of President Aquino and the Filipino people to the Japanese government and people as they cope with the devastation and loss caused by the earthquake.

Banno in turn expressed Japan’s deep appreciation for the warm messages of sympathy and for the shipment of the relief items that are needed in the affected areas.

Lopez likewise cited the close and long standing ties between the Philippines and Japan. –-Eva Visperas (The Philippine Star) with Pia Lee-Brago

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