A+ A-

Governor of Japan''s tsunami-hit area renews gratitude to Kuwait

By Miyoko Ishigami

(with photos) OFUNATO, Japan, April 3 (KUNA) -- Governor of Iwate Prefecture Takuya Tasso on Wednesday renewed his gratitude to HH the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and the Kuwaiti people for their support, including the donation of five million barrels of crude oil, following a magnitude 9.
0-quake and ensuing tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan two years ago.
"The people in Iwate Prefecture are deeply grateful for the Kuwaiti assistance," the governor said in an interview with Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) in the coastal city of Ofunato.
Earlier in the day, Tasso and Kuwaiti Ambassador to Japan Abdulrahman Al-Otaibi attended a ceremony to mark the restoration of disaster-struck Sanriku Railway Company's South Rias Line with Kuwait's assistance, which the governor described as a symbol of revival of Iwate.
"With Kuwait's aid, we were able to restore five station buildings and eight new diesel railcars to replace the damaged ones. This will significantly contribute to many residents here," Tasso said.
Sanriku Railway was established in 1984 as a joint venture of private firms and local municipalities, playing many roles for residents, including for commute, hospital access and shopping.
The line, which runs along the Pacific coast of Iwate Prefecture, was suspended after its train cars, rails, bridges and stations were wrecked by the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.
The disaster left nearly 19,000 people dead or missing in the northeastern region, according to the National Police Agency, 4,673 people in Iwate alone were confirmed dead, while 1,151 are still unaccounted for. The value of free oil from Kuwait, worth USD 500 million, was distributed through the Japan Red Cross Society to the three hardest-hit prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima.
The Kuwait-funded aid projects cover eight areas, such as infrastructure recovery and support for medical care, education, employment and agriculture in those prefectures, which severely suffer from weak finances following the disaster.
According to the governor, JPY 8.4 billion (USD 90 million), his prefecture's allocated share of the Kuwaiti donation, has been used for various reconstruction projects in addition to the restoration of Sanriku Railway, such as financial assistance for survivors, support for education, rehabilitation of fishery and aid to disaster-hit small and medium-sized enterprises, and the projects will continue through fiscal 2013. (pickup previous) mk.sd KUNA 031522 Apr 13NNNN