Tsunami-hit Japan museum gets Kuwaiti Amir's $ 3m donation |
Kuwait Times - 14 July, 2012
A handover ceremony for a $ 3 million donation from His Highness the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to Japan’s tsunami-hit marine science museum was held yesterday, giving a great encouragement to the people of Fukushima and deepening friendship between the two sides.
With attendance of Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) Director General Dr Naji Al-Mutairi and Japanese dignitaries, Kuwaiti Ambassador to Japan Abdulrahman Al-Otaibi presented the donation to Aquamarine Fukushima Executive Director Yoshitaka Abe in the northeastern coastal city of Iwaki.
In his speech at the ceremony, Fukushima Governor Yuhei Sato expressed gratitude to HH the Amir for the grant for the rehabilitation of Aquamarine Fukushima and confirmed his determination towards Fukushima Prefecture’s early recovery.
“The restoration of the marine science museum is extremely important, as it is a symbol of revitalizing Fukushima Prefecture,” said Sato, adding that with this generous contribution from Kuwait, revitalization of Aquamarine Fukushima and this region will significantly advance.
“One year and four months passed since the earthquake, and our efforts to work towards revitalize Fukushima have been gradually bearing fruits, as production and tourism are almost coming back to the pre-disaster level,” Sato noted, as he renewed his commitment to the full restoration of his prefecture by cooperating with people who support Fukushima, such as the Kuwaiti people.
A magnitude 9.0-quake and ensuing tsunami on March 11 last year left nearly 19,000 people dead or missing in the region and crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which is located 55 kilometers north of Iwaki.
During his state visit to Japan in March this year, HH the Amir announced the grant as a surprise gift for the restoration of the severely-damaged aquarium and the promotion of science and technology. In addition, Kuwait last year extended the donation of five million barrels of crude oil worth about $ 500 million that has greatly helped post-quake reconstruction in the three hardest-hit prefectures including Fukushima.
Home to the damaged nuclear complex, Fukushima Prefecture has been using its allocated share of JPY 15.5 billion ($ 195 million) in various projects, including support to small and medium-sized companies affected by the nuclear mishap, restoration of cultural properties and rebuilding homes of disaster victims.
Sato also said the fresh donation will bring the ties of Kuwait and Fukushima to a further heights. For his part, Ambassador Al-Otaibi, who has been working as a bridge between Kuwait and Fukushima Prefecture, stressed keenness of HH the Amir, government and people of Kuwait to assist reconstruction process of Japan and Fukushima.
“The 3 million donation was made for two reasons. First, it came from His Highness’ appreciation for the mission of Aquamarine Fukushima in raising the public’s awareness on the importance of protecting our nature and our oceans.
“Second, it shows the special place that the Japanese people hold in the heart of His Highness. And such gesture showed by His Highness highlights, without any doubt, the firm friendship between our countries and the strong wish to cherish it for the generations to come,” the ambassador said.
“I would like to convey my government’s hope that this donation will contribute to further accelerate the reconstruction of Aquamarine Fukushima and to set it back on course of pursuing its goal in paving the way of a better future for our children.”
Al-Otaibi also attached great importance to the signing of a resolution of friendship on Thursday between KISR and Aquamarine Fukushima, saying “we are totally confident that this resolution of friendship is to flourish the inter-cooperation between Kuwait and Japan for the years to come.”
The ambassador also said the year 2012 has been of particular significance when thinking about the friendly relations between the two countries, shedding light on the historical state visit to Japan by HH the Amir upon the invitation of Emperor Akihito as a token of appreciation and gratitude for the support that Kuwait has extended the people of Japan since the March 11 disaster.
Opened in 2000 on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, Aquamarine Fukushima has been a popular attraction, where people of all ages can enjoy learning various mysteries of the sea. Although there were no human casualties in Aquamarine Fukushima, tsunami waves hit the main building with full force, totally destroying the electrical system, which is the facilities’ lifeline. As a result, about 90 percent, or 200,000 fish and marine animals, in the aquarium died.
Aquamarine Fukushima was closed after the disaster and resumed business on July 15 last year, the 11th anniversary of its first opening. The aquarium used to receive an average of more than 3,000 visitors per day, but the number of visitors fell by 70 percent last summer and 40 percent recently, respectively, in the aftermath of the twin natural disasters and the radiation crisis.
Dr. Al-Mutairi, who signed the friendship agreement between the two institutes on the previous day with his counterpart Abe, said in a speech that KISR and the Japanese groups have expanded scientific cooperation and been engaged in many joint projects since his organization was established in 1967 by Japan’s Arabian Oil Company Ltd.
Based on such a deep-rooted relationship between the two countries, Kuwait should be one of among the first countries to have extended support to Japan after the disaster, Dr. Al-Mutairi said. KISR started operations 45 years ago with just five people, including founding member Katsuji Tainaka,
but currently have 1,500 researchers and employees and is cooperating with some 40 institutes worldwide. Meanwhile, Abe, who worked at KISR as a researcher in 1968-1969, expressed gratitude to HH the Amir for the generous donation and the ambassador for his unstinted support. He also showed appreciation to Dr Al-Mutairi and all the people who went to great lengths to realize this much-needed donation for the disaster-hit aquarium.
According to Abe, the money will be used in ways such as creating a facility which children can experience nature on land. He also said the aquarium will build a monument in a show of gratitude to the Kuwaiti contribution, which will become a symbol of hope for reconstruction.
Former Senior Vice Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Teruhiko Mashiko, Foreign Ministry’s Deputy Director-General Misako Kaji, Professor Emeritus of Kyoto University Dr. Miyori Kumamoto, KISR’s founding member Katsuji Tainaka, Japan Cooperation Center for the Middle East Managing Director Yoshitaka Nakamura and Japan-Kuwait Society Secretary General Ryuei Izumi were also present at the ceremony.