Japan declines Irish offer of aid


The Japanese government has declined an offer of Irish aid for those displaced by last Friday’s earthquake and resultant tsunami, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore has said.

Mr Gilmore said Japan was “probably the best-prepared country in the world for a major disaster”, and the Japanese Red Cross mobilised 62 response teams in the hours immediately following the earthquake.

It had nearly 400 doctors, nurses and support staff providing assistance in affected areas through mobile medical clinics.

However, Mr Gilmore said he had asked the Irish Ambassador in Tokyo John Neary to continue to keep in touch with the relief operation.

The Irish Aid Rapid Response Corps and Malaysia-based emergency stockpiles would remain available as the relief effort wore on, he said. The emergency stockpiles include temporary shelters, blankets, and water and sanitation equipment.

The Japanese have distributed more then 30,000 blankets to people who were evacuated before the tsunami struck and are now housed in temporary shelters set up in schools and public buildings.

“The Japanese Red Cross is working with the communities most-affected by the disaster and are providing vital emergency relief. Our embassy in Tokyo is in contact with them and with the Japanese government and we have offered our assistance."

"We are also in contact with the United Nations, who have sent a disaster assessment team to Japan” said the Tánaiste.

The mayor of Killarney, Donal Grady, today called on the Government to lead the way and offer shelter and refuge to Japanese earthquake victims.

Mr Grady said the southern region had a long association with Japanese companies who had been very good employers. “There are plenty of empty houses here. We should lead the way,” he said.

Astellas, a pharmaceutical company based in Killorglin whose headquarters are in Tokyo, announced yesterday it was donating donated €1 million to the Japanese earthquake relief fund. It is also donating medicines.