Statement From Hon Deputy Prime Minister And Minister Of Foreign Affairs And Foreign Trade Regarding The Earthquake And Tsunami Which Hit Japan On 11 March, 2011

We continue to be very concerned by the situation in Japan, in particularly, the north-eastern section of the country, in the aftermath of the natural disasters which caused so many bereavement and devastation.

As the death toll increases, so does the anxiety related to the stability of the nuclear reactor core in the Dai-ichi plant. We hope that the people and government of Japan will be spared any intensification of the impact of this tragic natural disaster.

We recognize that many Jamaicans are anxious about the location and welfare of loved ones. Our Jamaican Ambassador to Japan, HE Claudia Barnes, and her staff have been feverishly working to establish contact with Jamaican nationals in Japan.

To assist our Jamaicans who are concerned about their relatives and friends, the Ministry has set up a help desk – “Jamaica/Japan Helpline”, with the straight line number 936-0942. It will be opened starting today, Monday March 14 from 8:30 a.m – 6:00 p.m. You may call them with your queries.

Similarly, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan’s Foreign Nationals’ Affairs Division, has shared a contact number – 813-3501-8174.

The Jamaica/Japan partnership in the JET Programme spans 10 years and for this year, there are currently 55 JET Programme participants from Jamaica, employed as Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs). Of the 55 participants, 10 were identified by the Embassy as living in the area impacted by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

Our close contact over the weekend and today, has established that all 10 are safe. In addition, as of March 12, the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR), the body that coordinates the JET programme, indicated to the Jamaican Embassy in Japan that there were no reports of injuries, death or missing ALTS.

However, one Jamaican, a language consultant, who is not part of the JET programme, was up until this morning, still unaccounted for. Efforts continue by both our Embassy staff and the Jamaican community in Japan, to locate him, and their safety has been confirmed.

CLAIR also advises that mail servers in Sendai City of the Miyagi Prefecture are currently malfunctioning, so they are therefore unable to obtain rapid responses to information requests on the JET participants.

I should also make it clear that the Jamaican Embassy in Japan has on record only those who have registered with the Embassy. However, other Jamaicans living in Japan have been contacted by groups of those registered with the Embassy.

On the subject of the explosion at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant, Unit 1, Ambassador Barnes has confirmed that all Jamaicans in the zone have been advised of the evacuation measures established by the Government of Japan.

As I’ve said before, Japan is a country which has always gone readily to the assistance of countries in the wake of their suffering from the impact of natural disasters. The international community has already begun to offer assistance to this generous country, which now needs our support and solidarity.