New Zealand Embassy Tokyo, Japan

John Key expresses condolences to the people of Japan

Rt Hon John Key
Prime Minister

15 March 2011

I move that this House express its condolences to the people of Japan for the losses they have suffered as a result of the recent earthquake and tsunami.

A magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck northern Japan on Friday the 11th of March at 6.46pm New Zealand time.

The earthquake caused a huge tsunami which has devastated parts of Japan's north-eastern coast. It was also felt to a lesser extent around the Pacific.

Thousands of people in Japan's north-east are dead or missing.

The extent of the number of casualties is only just becoming clear.

There are no reports so far of New Zealand casualties, but our authorities are continuing to work hard to establish whether any New Zealanders have been caught up in this disaster.

Aftershocks of a magnitude greater than five are continuing, and there are concerns related to damage at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Mr Speaker, as the extent of this terrible tragedy unfolds, I wish to express the deepest sympathies and condolences of the New Zealand Government to Japan.

Our hearts go out to all those affected, especially those who have lost loved ones or those who are waiting to hear news of loved ones.

I'd particularly like to acknowledge all New Zealanders who are in Japan.

We are thinking of you.

New Zealanders have watched in horror and disbelief the scenes of destruction in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami.

We have recently experienced our own deadly earthquake, so it was with very raw emotion that we heard of the devastation and loss of life in Japan.

Unfortunately we know all too well the pain, stress, and heartbreak that can be caused by a natural disaster such as this.

Last night I spoke to the Prime Minister of Japan.

I have met Prime Minister Kan on a number of occasions, most recently at the APEC Summit in Yokohama last November.

It was good to speak to him over the phone and personally convey my sympathies.

I asked Prime Minister Kan to pass on the thoughts and condolences of New Zealanders to the people of Japan.

He explained to me the enormous devastation that Japan is facing, and he said that the Japanese government and people are united in dealing with the situation.

He passed on Japan's sincere appreciation for New Zealand's support, including the swift despatch of a New Zealand Urban Search and Rescue team, which is in Japan now.

Prime Minister Kan also renewed his condolences for the people of Christchurch following the February earthquake.

New Zealand and Japan are great friends.

Japan is our fourth largest trading partner. Many New Zealanders have lived in or visited Japan, and many Japanese people have lived in or visited New Zealand.

We value the strong relationship between our two countries, and I know the recent tragedies here and in Japan will bring our people even closer.

When Christchurch was devastated by an earthquake just three weeks ago, Japan was one of many countries which offered immediate assistance.

We were delighted to accept Japan's offer of urban search and rescue personnel to assist in our rescue and recovery operation.

Mr Speaker, New Zealand will help in any way we can as Japan overcomes this tragedy.

Japan stood by us in our time of need and we will stand by Japan in its time of need.

Our urban search and rescue team is now deployed in the field in Japan, alongside the Australian team.

We are grateful to Japan and the United States for supporting this deployment.

In addition to this team, we will be happy to provide whatever assistance we can in the days and weeks ahead.

Our heartfelt thoughts are with the people of Japan as they come to terms with this disaster and mourn the loss of so many lives.
 

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