Hundreds of cards made by children from all over the country were displayed at the entrance of a reception, organised to remember the 2011 Japanese earthquake victims.
Several government officials, diplomats, politicians and members of the international community attended the event hosted by Japanese Ambassador Hiroshi Oe.
Messages on the Pakistan-Japanese friendship and support for Pakistani children as tokens of goodwill were also showcased.
The national anthems of both countries were played followed by a minute of silence to pay tribute to those who lost their lives.
Ambassador Oe said a year after the disaster that caused nearly 20,000 deaths, Japan is on the path to revitalisation.
He said that basic facilities and infrastructure in affected regions have been restored speedily and steadily. “Life has returned to normalcy in Tokyo and in almost all parts of Japan,” the ambassador said. He added that the supply chain has been completely put back to normal and the business, education and tourism industries have begun to recover.
“I would like to renew my appreciation to the Pakistani military for sending emergency relief supplies to the two hardest hit regions – Iwate and Miyagi,” he added.
Sushi, made with premium quality rice from Miyagi and Japanese beverage sake from Iwate were served to the guests. “These are the prefectures that received emergency relief supplies from the Pakistani military,” said Ambassador Oe.
Sake from other disaster-affected areas like Ibaraki and Fukushima was also served. According to the ambassador, farmers and sake brewers of these areas quickly restored their production after the earthquake.
He said that Japan will continue to share lessons learned with the international community. Since Japan and Pakistan are both disaster-prone countries, both could further enhance cooperation in the field of disaster prevention and post-disaster reconstruction, he said, adding that Japan is now assisting Pakistan in formulating a master plan for disaster management.
The Japanese government has provided more than $500 million to Pakistan as emergency assistance for the two floods that have hit the country over the last two years, he added.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Dr Farooq Sattar, Senator Aitzaz Ahsan, Aftab Ahmad Sherpao of PPP-S, Awami Muslim League Pakistan’s chief Sheikh Rasheed and Senator Tariq Azeem attended the reception.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 14th, 2012.