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Japanese envoy thanks Taiwan for quake aid

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Japan's de facto ambassador to Taiwan yesterday expressed his nation's gratitude over Taiwan's assistance in the wake of the Tohoku earthquake as Japanese in Taipei commemorated the third anniversary of the devastating March 11, 2011 earthquake and ensuing tsunami.

“We sincerely express our gratitude to Taiwan over its assistance in the wake of the devastating tragedy,” said Sumio Tarui (樽井澄夫) head of the Taipei office of Japan's Interchange Association. The office represents Japan's interests in Taiwan in the absence of official diplomatic ties.

“Taiwan's assistance made us realize that Taiwan is a true friend in times of need,” he said.

The envoy noted that Japan will never forget the warmth Taiwanese people offered following the tragedy, and his office will always bear in mind that special bond as it continues to promote closer bilateral ties.

The 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami killed nearly 20,000 people, mainly in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures in northeastern Japan.

In the wake of the disaster, Taiwan donated about 20 billion Japanese yen (US$195 million) in aid, more than any other single country.

The Japanese representative made the remarks during an event to mark the anniversary of the disaster in Taipei.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-ping (王金平), on behalf of the Taiwanese government, expressed condolence over the loss of lives to his Japanese counterpart during the same event.

Wang said that bilateral exchanges since the disaster have only become closer and stronger in terms of two-way travel and cultural exchanges. He noted that the two countries will continue to work together on post-disaster relief and on nuclear safety.

Taipei will continue to support Tokyo over its ongoing reconstruction projects, Wang added.

The event in Taipei was organized by a group of Japanese nationals living in Taiwan to commemorate those who died in the disaster and to extend thanks to Taiwan for its post disaster assistance.

A moment of silence was observed during yesterday's ceremony. Signing and dance performances were also staged.

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