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Speech Transcripts

June 4, 2013

Speech at the 1st meeting of the High-level Experts and Leaders Panel on Water and Disasters (HELP)

Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan, Tokyo, Japan

(4th June (Tue) 10:45-10:50
Conference Room, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan)

Your Excellency Dr. Han Seung-soo, Chair of this panel,
Your Excellency Mr. Kittirat Na Ranong, Deputy prime minister of Thailand,
Your Excellency Ms. Delphine Batho, French minister of ecology, sustainable development and energy,
Your Excellency Mr. Akihiro Ohta, Japanese minister of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism,
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

I have the honour to join today's meeting and to speak to you in this opening session on behalf of JICA, the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

  1. As a nation facing frequently a variety of disasters, Japan has been continuously learning lessons from its painful experiences, and, based upon them, improving relevant policies, legislation, infrastructure and education. We have also accumulated knowledge or know-hows in various fields such as in the central and local governments.
  2. In Japan, we have been suffering since the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. Earthquakes and "tsunamis" have caused serious damages. Historically floods and typhoons were the main disasters. In 1959, the Isewan typhoon claimed many victims, and this forced the Japanese government to re-organise its disaster management policies. The government has been making major investment in flood prevention.
  3. In this regard, Japan has a substantial role to play in sharing its knowledge of "water and disasters". We are also willing to support disaster prone countries to enhance both structural and non-structural countermeasures in order to improve their disaster resilience.
  4. Social transformation changes the impact of disasters. Just as Japan had experienced in the past, many developing countries now see rapid urbanisation. And, this urbanisation intensifies negative impacts of natural disasters on people and economies. JICA therefore focuses on vulnerable countries and areas in terms of human and economic aspects when a disaster happens.
  5. Furthermore, in a globalised economy where transnational supply chains are developed, economic damages caused by a disaster will not be confined to one country or area. Damages spread rapidly with an international dimension. We must mitigate these negative impacts. JICA has initiated its assistance for ASEAN industrial complexes to develop business continuity plans, or BCPs.
  6. Now, I would like to highlight the importance of linking "Disaster Risk Reduction", or DRR, with sustainable development.
  7. Disasters undermine hard-won progress and hinder development. Building a disaster resilient society is essential for sustainable development. DRR investment is not merely a cost. DRR investment is an investment for steadier and stronger development which pays off.
  8. We need to continue our discussions on what DRR matters, in many international arenas including the post-2015 development agenda process.
    JICA is committed to following up relevant deliberations. And we are working on an economic model to empirically demonstrate a positive relationship between development and DRR investment.
  9. Furthermore, tangible outcome is important. JICA is now working to mainstream the DRR concept into development cooperation projects in all sectors, including city planning, infrastructure development and education.
  10. Yesterday, many of the participants in this meeting visited Rikuzen-Takata, a city struck by the Great East Japan Earthquake, to observe the current situation two years after the devastating event.
  11. The third World Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR) will be held in 2015 in Sendai, another city struck by the 3.11 earthquake. We have already started a post-2015 Hyogo Framework for Action, so called HFA2 process to be discussed in the third WCDR.
  12. I sincerely hope that today's meeting will be a good opportunity for all of us to take one big step forward in achieving sustainable growth and disaster resilient societies.

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