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The EU and Japan to forge closer cooperation in disaster management

Kristalina Georgieva
25/03/2013  - 

Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva and Akihiro Ohta, Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan have exchanged letters providing a framework to further enhance EU-Japan cooperation in disaster management.

"Natural disasters are becoming more intense and more frequent, making us all vulnerable. The triple disaster that hit Japan in March 2011 showed that even the best prepared countries can be overwhelmed by the force of nature. We can better meet these challenges by working together. I am convinced that exchanging information and best practices will benefit us both, the EU and Japan," said Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva.

The letters provide the basis for cooperation in a broad spectrum of disaster risk reduction topics, including major natural and man-made disasters related to water, such as floods, droughts, landslides and tsunami. The cooperation will cover preparedness and response to mega-disasters and the integration of climate change adaptation into disaster management policy.

The determination to strengthen the cooperation between Japan and the EU builds on the response to the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear incident that struck Japan in 2011. At the 2011 EU-Japan Summit, the partners already set out an ambitious work programme, which included a chapter on humanitarian assistance, emergency relief operations as well as disaster preparedness and prevention.

Although Japan is one of the best prepared countries to cope with disasters, the magnitude of the earthquake and the subsequent tsunami made it necessary to complement Japan's response capacities with international assistance. The EU responded with solidarity and generosity, delivering a coherent assistance package to the victims of the disaster.

The EU's solidarity with Japan was conveyed by Commissioner Georgieva who was the first high-level international politician to visit Japan in the disaster's aftermath.

The EU-Japan partnership to build resilience has been in focus ever since, and will be high on the agenda of the post-Hyogo framework, which is the UN-led process to mainstream disaster risk reduction within participating countries. Both partners are working towards integrating disaster reduction initiatives in development plans and reducing the impact of natural disasters through building community resilience.