Japanese experts discuss EWS with the President
[March 17, 2005 - 11.00 GMT]

A Japanese team of natural hazard management experts is now in the country at the invitation of the Government. Within days of the December 26th disaster President Kumaratunga requested the envoy in Colombo Mr. Akio Suda and sought possible Japanese assistance to establish an early warning system (EWS) for the region. The delegation of specialists called on the President today who thanked them for Japan’s generous gesture and Ambassador Suda for his efforts in coordinating the high level meeting.

During the discussions the President said Sri Lanka was not accustomed to natural disasters such as the December 26th tsunami. She emphasized, measures need to be put in place to minimize damage to life and property in the event of a similar catastrophe in the future.

In the Japanese team were Mr. Tatsuo Hamaguchi, Director General of the National Institute of Land and Infrastructure Management, Mr. Shuhei Kazusa, Director of the Earthquake & Volcanic Disaster Management and several other senior officials. Two Cabinet Ministers, the Secretary to the President and President’s advisor on science Prof. A. Kovoor were associated with the President.

The importance of enhancing Sri Lanka’s technical know-how and the possible Japanese inputs were discussed at length. It was felt that a well equipped local warning mechanism needs to be put in place first under an apex body. This would maximize the benefits of the proposed Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System. The participants also discussed the usefulness of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) in Hawaii.

The Japanese delegates then explained the disaster management methods in their country and the government’s role in such situations. They said in Japan the corporate sector and the local government departments work in tandem to monitor and disseminate information about impending disasters. The people are also made aware of what must be done in the event of a disaster.

The Secretary to the President W. J. S. Karunaratne briefed the gathering on the Government’s National Disaster Management Bill passed in Parliament recently.He said setting up a National Disaster Management Centre is now in progress and that it was comprehensive task.

The Director of the Met Department who is the CEO of the Interim Committee for National Disaster Management explained Sri Lanka’s experiences in managing minor natural disasters such as floods.

Science & Technology Minister Prof. Tissa Vitarana explained that the outcome of the Kobe and Paris conferences and the keenness of countries in the region to be a part of a comprehensive Indian Ocean early warning system. He said the role of India in this excercise cannot be underestimated.

The Minister of Environment A. H. M. Fowzie, members of JICA and the Japanese Embassy, public officials and scientists from government agencies and academic institutions were also present at today’s discussion.





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Last Updated Date: March 17, 2005 - 11.00 GMT


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