Senior Japanese vice minister Tadahiro Matsushita met with Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda on Tuesday in Jakarta to present a letter from his new government and discuss relief assistance for victims of the Padang earthquake.
Vice Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Matsushita said after the meeting the new Japanese government was willing to provide any assistance for rehabilitation and reconstruction in the wake of the Padang quake that has claimed the lives of more than 600 people.
“Japan has already dispatched relief assistance worth between 25 million and 30 million yen (US$340,000) to Padang,” he said through an interpreter.
“We have yet to discuss the future amount of assistance we can provide as we are still tackling the emergency situation right now. But later on, we will discuss the rehabilitation, and once the Indonesian government decides what kind of assistance it needs, we can come up with further help. Money is not an issue for us.”
Matsushita’s visit was the first by an official from the new government of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, whose Democratic Party of Japan swept to power in a landslide victory in the August elections.
Both countries have pledged to enhance ties, saying the first new government in almost five decades of uninterrupted Liberal Democrat rule would not change Tokyo priority’s over Jakarta in its
Matsushita said the assistance naturally might be part of Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) to Indonesia. Japan has committed to distributing a maximum of $20 million in ODA to Asian countries over the next two or three years. Japan is one of Indonesia’s largest trading partners and aid distributors under its ODA.
He said Minister Hassan had expressed his appreciation for the assistance from Japan, which was the very first country to send an emergency rescue team and medical team to Padang after the quake rattled the Sumatran province on Sept. 30.
Separately, New Zealand has decided to contribute $420,000 in assistance to the emergency relief work in Padang. Of that amount, $230,000 will be channeled through SurfAID International and the rest through the Indonesian Red Cross.
“New Zealand would do what it can at this sad time to help the Indonesian government alleviate the suffering of the quake victims and to support the National Disaster Management Body-coordinated relief efforts,” New Zealand Ambassador to Indonesia Phillip Gibson said Tuesday in a press release.
Meanwhile, the United States has built a field hospital to accommodate 200 to 250 patients a day in Padang to help local hospitals dealing with more than 3,000 casualties. The Humanitarian Assistance Rapid Response Team field hospital is located near the M. Jamil General Hospital.
The United States has provided a total of $466,204 in assistance for emergency relief in Padang.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sri Lankan Minister of Foreign Affairs Rohitha Bogollagama also conveyed their condolences in letters to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono recently, expressing their readiness to offer helps.
“India stands ready to render assistance that would help to alleviate the damage caused by the devastating earthquake,” Singh said.
“Please convey my sincere condolences to the members of the bereaved families and those who suffered from this tragedy and wishes for a speedy recovery to those who suffered injuries,” Bogollagama said.
Matsushita’s visit was the first by an official from the new government of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama...