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For Japan, Our Generous Donor

30.03.2011

The Tsunami that hit on 11 March 2011 has brought difficult circumstances to Japan that should not be dealt with alone. It is time to mobilize needed support from the international community, and UNESCO stands ready to lend Japan a helping hand.

After theTohoku-Pacific Ocean Earthquake at 8.9 on the Richter Scale hit Japan’s North-East coast of Sanriku on Friday, 11 March; the whole world was stunned, seeing on news channels the scenes of the Tsunami devastation.  Over 10 meter-high, super powerful waves brought major destruction, wrecking ships, boats, cars, houses, buildings and even airplanes on their way from coastal areas into land for a distance of over 10 kilometers.  This does not even begin to account for the damage; over ten thousand beloved people were killed, injured and have gone missing during these catastrophes.    

Japan's Meteorological Agency (JMA) is well known for its experience in dealing with earthquakes and is well-equipped with the technology to prevent much loss from this kind of natural disaster.  However, the strongest earthquake in the past 140 years has inevitably caused tremendous loss to Japan’s businesses, economy and the Japanese people. Moreover, the disaster has also put Japan and the world at risk for radiation due to leaks at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station, run by Tokyo Electric Power Co., Inc. (TEPCO).   

The damage caused to Japan is catastrophic, and it is time to lend a helping hand.    Over 120 countries and regions and 33 international organizations have taken initiative to offer assistance and support to Japan.  Many public and private organizations around the world have started fund raising campaigns to support relief efforts in Japan; in Thailand for example, T-shirts were sold to raise funds for Japan. 

At this stage, emergency relief supplies and rescue teams are most needed.  In the past weeks, rescue teams from several countries have arrived in Japan to help in search of survivors and offer much needed support.   A team of 4 experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have also arrived to support Japan in handling the issues at the nuclear power plants.  Emergency relief supplies have been dispatched to Japan from Bhutan, Canada, China, India, Thailand, Turkey, and Ukrain. 

For Japan, who has been our generous donor, "UNESCO will do everything possible within its areas of competence to help the victims of this latest catastrophe to recover and rebuild their lives;” Irina Bokova, the Director General of UNESCO, pledged soon after learning about the news of disaster on Friday, 11 March.  Gwang-Jo Kim, Director of UNESCO Bangkok, in his statement to expresses solidarity with the people of Japan after the devastating earthquake and tsunami, affirmed that “UNESCO stands ready to support the Government of Japan in its efforts to overcome the crisis and in its reconstruction and recovery efforts.”  

Since 1970, via the Japanese Funds-in-Trust Programmes run by UNESCO Bangkok, Japan has been a generous donor to many development projects for countries in the Asia and Pacific -- Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam -- among others. The results of recent projects, since 2000, have been documented for wider knowledge sharing in different formats ranging from manuals, toolkits, case studies and policy reviews -- which can be found listed in the Japan-UNESCO Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific: Publication Catalog.

Recently, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) of Japan has closely collaborated with UNESCO Bangkok to support different education programmes/projects such as:

Secondary Education Policy Research in Asia (SEPRA) Project: aimed to  develop a secondary education regional information base to help countries undertake policy analysis and to formulate secondary education reforms. A few series of publications have been published: 

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Education for Natural Disaster Preparedness: aimed to support the region’s efforts in building knowledge and understanding of these issues through workshops and publications such as:

HIV Preventive Education:  aimed to help the Ministries of Education in the region reduce the transmission of HIV among school-aged children by improving the quality and effectiveness of teaching about HIV and AIDS.  Some recent projects are:

As we all know, to recover from the damages caused by the natural disaster, it will take many years and enormous efforts of humanity.  With the support from international community together with the courage of Japanese people and the merit of Japan, we all believe that "Japan will rise again."

Author: Ratchakorn Kulsawet (r.kulsawet(at)unesco.org)