Indonesia helps Japan as token of sympathy

18 March, 2011 | Source: Antara News

The Indonesian government has announced its pledge to donate respectively US$2 million and US$500,000 to Japan and New Zealand, both recently hit by strong earthquakes.

This is to show the Indonesian nation`s sympathy to Japan and New Zealand as fellow earthquake-prone nations, according to Coordinating Minister for People`s Welfare Agung Laksono.

Besides the money, Indonesia is also sending a 15-member team and humanitarian aid to Japan, which has been partly devastated by a magnitude-9 earthquake and subsequent deadly tsunami.

"The money amounting to two million US dollars will be transferred directly to the Japanese government," Minister Agung Laksono said in Jakarta on Thursday (March 17) .

On the occasion, Minister Agung Laksono saw off the Indonesian humanitarian team to Japan in the presence of among others Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa. He explained that the 15-member team would be part of 65 people who have been prepared to be sent to Japan. The 15 people are among others from Basarnas (National Search And Rescue Agency), TNI (National Defense Forces), the health ministry, and BNPB (National Agency of Disaster Mitigation). They flew to Tokyo by a National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia plane on Thursday at 11.50 pm

Garuda`s spokesman Pujobroto said in Jakarta, Thursday that the GA-884 aircraft also carried humanitarian packages consisting of 10,000 blankets and 100 boxes of mineral water."The humanitarian aid comprises ten thousand blankets and 100 boxes of mineral water with total weight of five tons," he said.

Japan devastated by the massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11 which had reportedly killed at least 5,000 people and caused almost 10,000 others go missing. CNN quoted a Tokyo resident as saying on Thursday that food shortages were spreading in the capital city and Japanese forces kept trying to control a nuclear plant crisis by dropping water from helicopters.

As a result of its nuclear plant crisis, Japan has asked Indonesia to increase its liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies to help the country deal with the power crisis.

Speaking at a press conference with Japan`s Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Makiko Kikuta at the Foreign Affairs Ministry here Wednesday (March 16), Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa said Indonesia was always helped by Japan every time it was hit by a natural disaster, and it was very reasonable and appropriate if now Indonesia assisted Japan in its time of need.

Makiko Kikuta on the occasion said the Government of Japan appreciated Indonesia`s concrete assistance in the aftermath of the natural disaster. "I very much appreciate the Indonesian support and assistance. Indonesia has managed to rise from some natural disasters in the past, and the people of Japan will surely rise again after this disaster," said Kikuta.

The Indonesian government through its Embassy in Tokyo has so far deployed a team to help the evacuation process of the victims.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) chief public relations officer Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Wednesday that the Indonesian government actually wanted to send a team of 65, but it was later decided to send only 15, because the Japanese government said it was not yet in need of a medical team.

The humanitarian team included two specialists on restoring family links (RFL) from the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI), to help find missing relatives.

Exkuwin Suharyanto, a PMI spokesman, said Thursday that PMI decided to send the two specialists after communicating with the Japanese government and Red Cross. "PMI has specialists in that matter and we also have a website for RFL program," he said.

The two specialists will be posted in the Crisis Center at the Indonesian embassy in Tokyo, and they will work as long as they are needed. Since Sunday (13/3), PMI has opened a command post to help those looking for their missing relatives in Tokyo in the aftermath of the natural disasters devastating Japan recently. The command post`s phone number is 021-799 2325, ext 678.

According to Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, the fate and whereabouts of 139 Indonesians in Japan are still uncertain. "The number of Indonesians whose whereabouts cannot yet be confirmed totaled 139 people," he told journalists at the Presidential Palace. The total number of Indonesians who had been sent home to Indonesia had reached 109. "On Thursday night, 19 Indonesians have also returned home from Japan," he said.

PMI has also prepared 10-20 disaster mitigation volunteers and SAR (Search and Rescue) specialists in the medical, water and sanitation fields. Expressing the readiness to help Japan, PMI chairman Jusuf Kalla in Solo (Central Java), Tuesday (March 15) said "I am confident Japan is able to overcome the disaster because it has advanced and applied technology."

First Lady Ani Yudhoyono has also expressed her deepest condolences and sympathy to Japan.

The Indonesian people, she said, could feel the sorrows and heavy burden of the Japanese people because Indonesia had once experienced a similar natural disaster in Aceh in 2004."The earthquake and tsunami devastated the area and killed many people. We can understand the feeling of the Japanese people because we once also experienced a similar natural disaster," she said.

In addition to Indonesia, other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are providing relief aid to Japan.

"ASEAN is set to give support and relief aid to Japan, and each of the governments of the ASEAN member countries will maintain close contact with the Japanese authorities for efficiency of the aid," Jakarta-based ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan said in a press statement on Wednesday.

Each of the ASEAN member countries has sent many forms of assistance including cash, medical help, food, rescue teams and other forms. Cambodia and Laos have given 100,000 US dollars respectively to help the disaster victims in Japan. The National and Risk Management Council of the Philippines was set to send a SAR team and more of its members whenever necessary.

A Pray for Japan ceremony was organized at a private university in Jakarta Thursday night, which as attended by Andri Hadi, the foreign ministry`s information and public diplomacy director general, and Japanese Ambassador to Indonesia Kojiro Shiojiri.

Ambassador Kojiro said help from the international world was very needed, especially those with special skills. He, in the company of his wife, expressed his deepest appreciation to the volunteers for their unselfish help sent by the Indonesian government to Japan and for the two million US dollars from the Indonesian government.(*)


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