Japanese officials renew gratitude for Kuwait''s support after quake

Japanese officials on Monday renewed gratitude for the generous assistance and sincere support given to the Japanese people by the Kuwaiti government and the people after the devastating earthquake in March 2011.
"The people of the areas as well as the whole of Japan shall never forget the feelings of gratitude toward Kuwait," Yuriko Koike, Chairwoman of the Japan-Kuwait Parliamentary Friendship League made remarks to Japanese media. "Kuwait offered one of the earliest and biggest supports for the affected areas. The assistance from Kuwait covers a lot of ground," Koike said in her statement to the Japan Times newspaper. "In addition to the donation of crude oil reaching 5 million barrels, equal to USD 500 million, during his visit to Japan as a state guest last March, His Highness the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah expressed his intention to donate USD 2 million to the Japanese Red Cross Society and of USD 3 million to Aquamarine Fukushima," Koike underlined. "Let me express my heartfelt gratitude to H.H. the Amir and the people of Kuwait as well as Kuwaiti Ambassador to Japan Abdulrahman Al-Otaibi, who made repeated visits to the devastated areas and provided accurate information about Japan's needs to his home country, and the staff members of the Embassy, " she added. Koike, who visited Kuwait on Feb. 12 after assuming the position as the Chairwoman of the Japan-Kuwait Parliamentary Friendship League, to exchange opinions with her Kuwaiti counterpart, also said Kuwait is known as one of the most advanced nations in terms of democratization among the Arab countries. "It has been more than half a century since Japan established diplomatic ties with the friendly nation of Kuwait. I sincerely hope that the bilateral relations in various fields, including politics, economics, culture and environment, will be further deepened and expanded to make this come true, I am determined to persevere in my best efforts," she added. Meanwhile, speaking to the Japan Times and the Daily Yomiuri, Japan-Kuwait Society Chairman Kuniyasu Takeda said the year of 2012 marked "a historic visit to Japan by H.H. the Amir in March, in which he was warmly received at the Imperial Palace by Emperor, who was recuperating from heart bypass surgery. During his landmark visit, Japan and Kuwait signed two agreements on investment and cultural exchanges between the two countries. "The visit of the H.H. the Amir added a fresh page to the half-century of friendship between Japan and Kuwait, especially after the announcement of a fresh donation of USD 5 million, of which USD 3 million was dedicated to the restoration of the Aquamarine Fukushima aquarium, and USD 2 million to support earthquake victims in Fukushima Prefecture," he said. "Kuwait's financial support, during the natural crisis, was the largest amount ever donated to Japan by any country," he said, expressing profound appreciation for the unprecedented contribution made by Kuwait during a time of serious hardship and devastation from the gigantic earthquake and the ensuing tsunami. Japan-Kuwait relations date back to 1958, when Arabian Oil Company of Japan acquired oil and gas concessions in the offshore Divided Zone, in a deal that led to discovery of the massive Khafji Oilfield. "Ever since Japan and Kuwait established diplomatic relations in 1961, the two countries have fostered friendly relations in broad spheres ranging from the economy and scientific technology to environment protection and education to cultural exchanges," said Takeda. The Japanese-Kuwaiti Businessmen's Committee has met almost every year alternately in Tokyo and Kuwait since 1995 to exchange views and discuss ways of economic cooperation. There have been 17 such committee meetings, the latest of which was held last September in Kuwait. Takeda also spoke highly of Kuwait's initiative to have sponsored the first Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) Summit last October. The ACD is a forum of 32 countries from all corners of the Asian region aimed at discussing issues of common interest to boost mutual cooperation and synergy in all areas. At that first-ever summit meeting attended by heads of state of the ACD member nations, H.H. the Amir called for setting up a USD 2 billion fund to fight poverty in Asia and announced that Kuwait would contribute USD 300 million to the fund. For his part, Ambassador Al-Otaibi told Japanese newspapers that he is confident the newly formed government in December under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will contribute to strengthening the bonds of cooperation between Japan and Kuwait based on their long history of bilateral collaboration in regional and international matters. "The historic state visit by H.H. the Amir to Japan in March 2012 resulted in several important outcomes, the most prominent of which was sharing a viewpoint between the leaders of both countries on major regional and international issues and their common desire to strengthen bilateral cooperation in different areas in particular, investment and the economy." The top Kuwaiti diplomat here also encouraged the active involvement by the Japanese businesses in Kuwait's large-scale development plan adopted in 2010 with an estimated cost of USD 129 billion aimed at transforming the country into a major financial hub and trade center by 2035. "With its 1370 mega-projects, we believe this plan offers a great investment opportunity for leading Japanese companies to benefit from the envisaged development projects in infrastructure, trade, education, finance and welfare," Al-Otaibi said. He also affirmed Kuwait's pledge to further promote cooperation in a multitude of areas beyond the traditional oil sector, encompassing education, culture, media, science and technology, saying, "collaboration in education and culture with Japan, whose institutions are world class, could emerge between research institutions, such as the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research as well as the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences and their Japanese counterparts." Universities, with particular reference to the interest from Kuwait University to increase the number of exchange students, could also be the ground for collaborative activities that contribute to a deepening of mutual understanding between our nations, he added. (end) mk.nfm KUNA 251103 Feb 13NNNN By Miyoko Ishigami (with photos)