10 year anniversary of Japan Great Eastern Earthquake – Japanese Ambassador thanks NDRF team that assisted in rescue missions

New Delhi : As Japan marks the 10 year anniversary of the Great Eastern Earthquake that was followed by a tsunami that took the lives of close to 20,000 Japanese citizens, the Japanese Ambassador to India H.E Satoshi Suzuki expressed a deep sense of gratitude towards the people of India and a team of India’s National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) personnel that had assisted in relief efforts.

In what was their first overseas deployment ever, a team of 46 NDRF members engaged themselves in search and rescue in the town of Onagawa on the Eastern coast of Japan, where 85% of the buildings were swept away by a 14.8 mt high tsunami, and more than 800 people lost their lives.

In a gesture that expresses the deep and abiding friendship between the Government of India and the Government of Japan as well as the growing people to people ties between the two countries, the Ambassador of Japan to India, H.E Satoshi Suzuki penned a heartfelt letter to the 46-member NDRF team.


“The courageous rescue mission of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) can never be forgotten,” he wrote adding that after 10 years, the efforts for the reconstruction of the region are steadily moving forward. Onagawa has also shown a notable rebirth. The residents are determined to continue living with the sea in the future as they have done for generations, despite the devastation they experienced.


Speaking about one of the biggest natural disasters that any country has in recent memory, he said, “On this solemn occasion, the people of India offer their prayers for the repose of so many souls and expressed heartfelt sympathy to those who lost their loved ones. Thousands of Indian blankets warmed up those who had lost their homes and tonnes of biscuits and water bottles helped the people overcome their hunger.”


In Onagawa the Government of Japan has also preserved an old Onagawa Police Box, which was uprooted from its base by the tsunami, as a Disaster Memorial Facility. At this memorial the search and rescue activities conducted by the NDRF are inscribed on the wall panels of the observation deck, and memorialized for eternity.


Alok Awasthi, currently the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) for the Rapid Action Force (RAF) was on deputation to the NDRF in 2011 and leader of the team on the ground working in harsh cold and wet weather conditions in Japan from 26th March till 7th April 2011. On receiving the letter of thanks from the Japanese Ambassador Mr. Awasthi said, “It is extremely humbling to receive this letter from the Hon’ble Ambassador. It warms our hearts to know that even after 10 years, the work that we did in Japan is remembered by everyone.”


Having received Indian help 10 years ago, Japan has been working closely with India to strengthen India’s disaster management capacity and building resilient infrastructure. In 2017, Japan and India signed an MoC on cooperation in disaster risk reduction, under which bilateral workshops have been held, and cooperation between research institutions and private sectors have been promoted. The countries remain committed to working together for India’s aspirations towards disaster risk reduction and a resilient society as it moves to a $5 trillion economy.


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