Monday, June 13, 2011

Kyodo news: Indonesia feels disaster-tied kindred spirit

 Jakarta — Indonesia and Japan can learn from each other in dealing with natural disasters, two prominent Indonesian figures said in separate interviews recently.

Megawati Sukarnoputri

 Three months after the March 11 earthquake that triggered tsunami and nuclear crisis in northeastern Japan, the country and the people have started to recover and wake up again, something that has impressed former Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri.
 "Certainly, I feel very sad about the disaster in Japan, (but) I am also happy to see the Japanese people united and helping each other," Megawati said at the office of her Indonesian Democratic Party for Struggle.
 "I heard that . . . those who still had food would declare they still had it, giving the food and drink to the people who really didn't have them. That's extraordinary," she added.
 She said there are many lessons the Indonesian people should learn not only from the Japanese government, but also from Japanese society in dealing with natural disaster in the future.
 She recalled how many years ago, when she was eating with her children at a McDonalds outlet in Japan, a strong earthquake hit.
 "I was about to run away, but the Japanese people there kept sitting. When I asked them why, they told me there would be time to run, to escape," the daughter of the late President Sukarno said. "Their way of life has been prepared to live in a place that is a part of the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire."
 Based on their experience in dealing with the 2004 earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia's Aceh Province and the nearby island of Nias, Megawati said Indonesians are always ready to help their Japanese brothers and sisters and share their experience.
 The 2004 Indian Ocean disaster killed 230,000 people of 40 nationalities in 13 countries — 170,000 of them in Aceh and Nias alone.

                                                                                                                             Photo: ANTARA
Kuntoro Mangkusubroto

 A few months after the disaster, Kuntoro Mangkusubroto was made chairman of the Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Agency for Aceh and Nias dealing with recovery efforts.
 His work to rebuild Aceh and revive the livelihoods of local people has been regarded as a success by the international community.
 "There are no two similar natural disasters. They are always different, although both are caused by earthquake and tsunami. They are different because they happen in different areas or in different countries or in different cultures," Kuntoro said.
 "There is no single tool, instrument to recover the postdisaster condition. I have a lot of experience in Aceh and I want to share it with (Japan), but it doesn't mean that this is a recipe for Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate," he added.
 When dealing with such a huge disaster, he said, there is only one thing in common.
 "It is the people. It is the victims who can help themselves. It is very important to listen, because it is their future we are trying to recover," Kuntoro said.


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