Death toll from torrential rains in western Japan reaches 200, dozens still missing

admin   •   July 13, 2018   •   2782

A rescuer in the search for missing people, excavators working (Image grabbed from CCTV video via Reuters)

The death toll from the torrential rains that have battered western Japan reached 200, authorities said Thursday, as search and rescue missions continue to find dozens still missing in the wake of flooding and landslides.

More than 70,000 personnel are involved in the ongoing search and rescue missions for the 60 or more people still unaccounted for in the areas affected by the deluge.

These include the hardest-hit regions of Hiroshima, Okayama and Ehime prefectures.

For days now, Masumi Fujita, a survivor in Hiroshima, has done little but worrying about his girlfriend. She was at home on Friday night when torrential rains started pounding Western Japan. The last time they spoke was on the phone on his way home, but he has not been able to hear from her since.

“She’s missing because of a series of unfortunate events. Now that I think about it, I could have intervened in one of those events. There’s a chance I could have prevented the tragedy,” said Fujita.

Fujita’s girlfriend could be one of the few still missing from their village in Hiroshima. Three days of heavy downpour set off landslides in different parts of the prefecture, killing scores. Search and rescue workers have been digging through rubble, looking for survivors or bodies.

Over 70 people have been confirmed dead in Hiroshima alone. Search teams are taking advantage of the improved weather, clearing the worst-hit communities of boulders that the rains have sent crashing down and debris from the destroyed homes.

“I walked up from the bottom of the hill towards where my house was, and when I looked up where my house was supposed to be, the only thing I saw was the foundation,” said Fujita.

As the search efforts continue, the Japanese government has earmarked more than 630 million U.S. dollars for reconstruction.

Fujita said he hoped to rebuild the life that he had shared with his girlfriend, so he is holding on to what little hope there is of finding her alive.— Reuters

Japan pledges food aid to Bangsamoro farmers, fisherfolks

Robie de Guzman   •   November 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The government of Japan has committed to provide 350 million yen in food assistance to farmers, fisherfolks, and other vulnerable sectors in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), its embassy in Manila said Thursday.

In a statement, the embassy said the grant aid will be implemented by the World Food Programme (WFP), which will procure approximately 1,788 metric tons of Japanese rice for distribution to beneficiaries.

The project seeks to support around 9,877 farming and fishing households, including decommissioned combatants and indigenous peoples in Bangsamoro.

“To supplement the food and nutrition needs of the targeted population, the Japanese rice will be fortified with iron prior to distribution,” the embassy said.

“Through this undertaking, vulnerable and conflict-affected communities in BARMM are expected to have improved food security, resilience, and livelihood, which will enhance peace and achieve development in the Region,” it added.

The food aid project for BARMM was signed between Japanese Ambassador Koshikawa Kazuhiko and WFP Representative and Country Director Brenda Barton.

Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr., Foreign Affairs Acting Secretary Theresa Lazaro and BARMM Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Agrarian Reform Deputy Minister Ammal Solaiman also witnessed the event.

Philippines thanks Japan for over 3M donated AstraZeneca shots

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government on Friday expressed its gratitude to Japan for its donation of more than 3 million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines.

In a statement, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said the Philippines is inching closer to hitting its vaccination targets for the year 2021 through the support of its international partners.

Galvez issued the statement after the Philippines received 896,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines donated by the Japanese government on Thursday,

The latest vaccine shipment is part of the 1,961,600 Japan-donated vaccine doses that are scheduled to arrive this week.

“These donated vaccines will enable the Philippines to realize its goal of achieving a daily jab rate of 1.5 million doses, and fully vaccinate at least 50 million Filipinos by year end,” Galvez said.

“The arrival of this latest vaccine donation from Japan comes at a crucial time, as the Philippines continues to expand the coverage of its vaccine rollout, which now includes minors within the 12 to 17 age group,” he added.

Another shipment consisting of 1,065,600 AstraZeneca doses are set to arrive on October 30, the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 said.

Japan had donated 1,124,100 AstraZeneca doses back in July, bringing its total donated vaccines to the Philippines to 3,085,700.

“This means that one million Filipinos throughout the country will be protected against the deadly virus,” Galvez said.

For his part, Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhiko Koshikawa emphasized the importance of vaccines in preventing the spread of COVID-19, drawing from their experience back in Japan.

“In Japan, we are currently seeing astonishing successes in our vaccination program. The rate of adult vaccination has increased significantly, and the number of new infection cases a day had declined dramatically,” Koshikawa said.

“I expect the same thing would happen soon in the Philippines,” he added.

As of October 27, the Philippines has administered a total of 57,494,154 jabs nationwide, of which 26,479,029 Filipinos are now fully vaccinated, while 31,015,126 have received the first dose.

PH gov’t intensifying readiness vs terror threat amid Japan warning – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Thursday assured that the military and police forces are intensifying their readiness against any possible threat to national security.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque gave the assurance following the advisory issued by the government of Japan for its residents to avoid crowded areas and religious ins six Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines.

“Nagpapasalamat po tayo sa impormasyon. Pero lalo lang po nating pinaiigting ang ating kahandaan para po harapin ang posibleng terroristic attack muli,” Roque said in a Palace briefing.

The Palace official said state forces have been on heightened alert since the Marawi siege happened in 2017.

Roque, however, urged the public to be vigilant and to immediately report any suspicious individuals and activities in their areas.

“Nakahanda naman po ang ating kapulisan at ang ating Hukbong Sandatahan at hinihiling din atin ang kooperasyon ng ating mga mamamayan. I-report po ninyo sa kapulisan kung mayroon kayong kaduda-dudang mga personalidad o di naman kaya mga kadudang mga bagay-bagay lalo na sa mga pampublikong lugar,” he said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police earlier said they have not monitored any terror threat but are working to validate the information.

Aside from the Philippines, the warning issued by the Japanese government also covers Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, and Malaysia.

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