SENDAI: Kuwait’s donation of five million barrels of crude oil following a massive earthquake-tsunami disaster is highly appreciated, Japanese Red Cross Society Vice President Yoshiharu Otsuka said. The Kuwaiti donation was the largest contribution to Japan by any country during the critical period since the tragedy that hit the northeastern region five years ago. “I wish to express our heartfelt appreciation to Kuwait for its generous support to the response and recovery efforts of the 2011 disaster,” Otsuka said in a statement to Kuwait News Agency.
Soon after the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami that left more than 18,000 people dead or missing in the northeastern region, Kuwait offered Japan five million barrels of crude oil through the Japanese Red Cross Society, worth about $500 million at that time, by the initiative of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. “We are honored to be the recipient of the donation from Kuwait, which has been used to assist the recovery efforts in the affected areas,” Otsuka made remarks on the occasion of the establishment of the Kuwait Partnership Fund for Medical Education with a capital of JPY nine billion ($104 million).
“This newly established study fund, which utilizes Kuwait’s donation, is an innovative scheme to develop the human resources necessary for regional medicine and for the recovery of the disaster-affected areas,” the official said. The twin disaster has caused the rise in the number of patients and an exodus of medical staff here. In response to a plea by Miyagi Prefecture to address severe shortage of doctors, the government has given the go-ahead for a university in Sendai City to establish new medical department. It is the first medical school to open in Japan since 1979.
Starting from April, the study fund will provide scholarships to 30 medical students per year from Miyagi, who commit to working at designated medical institutions in the prefecture for 10 years after graduation from the newly established Tohoku Medical and Pharmaceutical University. “The many recipients of this fund, who will study to become doctors, will play a significant role in the future of medicine in Miyagi and the northeastern region,” Otsuka said. He also expressed hope that the fund will serve as a testament of the long-lasting goodwill relationship between Kuwait and Japan.
In addition to the medical study fund, Kuwait’s crude oil donation has been used for various reconstruction projects in the three prefectures over the past five years, such as infrastructure recovery, employment and agriculture. Miyagi was the first devastated region where Kuwaiti Ambassador to Japan Abdulrahman Al-Otaibi made a series of visits after the 2011 catastrophe to show Kuwait’s support and solidarity. The reconstruction work in Miyagi is progressing, but nearly 25,000 people are still living in temporary housing. – KUNA