Cebu board reaches out to Japan

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011


CEBU CITY -- News about the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami last Friday in Japan worried Cebu Provincial Board (PB) Member Sun Shimura more than it did other Cebuanos monitoring the event.

A phone call to his father Tadayoshi Shimura, 67, reassured him that the latter was safe in Isawa, Yamanashi, which lies south of the worst-hit areas.

Relief that his father was safe mingled with sadness for those still reeling from the disaster.

The PB, where Shimura sits as one of the representatives of the fourth district, passed a resolution Monday expressing its "deepest sympathies to the people of Japan" for the devastation.

The legislators asked Cebuanos to offer prayers and any assistance for the safety and recovery of Japan.

Sponsored by PB Member Carmen Remedios Durano-Meca, the resolution pointed out that Japan is one of the many nations that regularly provide development and calamity assistance to the Philippines.

"During this time of tragedy, it is important that the PB and Cebuanos in general express our unity and solidarity with the people of Japan," Meca said.

Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said she has not received any request for assistance to help locate any missing Cebuanos there, but said the Capitol is willing to assist in whatever way it can.

The province will check with the Department of Foreign Affairs because it is the lead agency on the conditions of all Filipinos working abroad.

More serious than the quake or tsunami is the threat of nuclear disaster, said the president of a Japanese association based in Cebu.

"If a nuclear problem happens, a bigger area will be affected," said Akira Oka, 84. Oka said his relatives live in Mie Prefecture, which is near Nagoya City and more than 500 kilometers from the disaster area.

He worries about the nuclear plants in Fukushima Prefecture, which is near Sendai, the city most greatly affected by the quake and big waves.

Preparedness

He has friends in Sendai City, but his worry is tempered by the fact that they live in the mountains, quite far from the coast.

Oka is the president of Shin-Nikei Jin, a non-profit association in Cebu.

Asked how prepared the province is for similar disasters, Governor Garcia said: "You want an honest answer? Not even Japan was prepared."

Even if their buildings were designed to withstand earthquakes, last Friday's temblor was extremely powerful, and there was no way to prepare for the tsunami that quickly followed.

The Capitol, she said, is focused on disaster preparedness programs through "risk reduction and disaster management." Barangay tanods will form part of Cebu's reserved force that can be called upon if disaster strikes. (RSA/With OCP of Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 15, 2011.

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