12 November, 2013
Japan Pledges 150 million USD Support for Uttarakhand

We extend to the flood victims in the Himalayan region of India, particularly the State of Uttarakhand the deep condolences and unwavering support of Japan following the flood disaster of June. Immediately after the flood, the Government of Japan decided to provide an emergency grant aid of 2 hundred thousand US dollars through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to support the distribution of relief items and other relief operations to help the floods victims in India. The work of rescue is largely finished. However, in the task of recovery and rebuilding, some of the hardest work is still ahead, and it will require the creative skill and tenacious effort. Even today, so many victims of the flood are far from home, friends and familiar things.

To help the citizens of the Himalayan region of India to overcome this disaster, put their lives back together and rebuild their communities, the Government of Japan has decided to provide to second batch of assistance. His Excellency Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs pledged to His Excellency Shri Salman Khurshid, External Affairs Minister of India a 150 million USD to the state of Uttarakhand to support the reconstruction of the Himalayan region of India at the Japan-India Foreign Ministers' Meeting held on 12th November, 2013.In the course of implementation, Japan will be working closely with the partners on the ground including the Government of India, the State of Uttarakhand and local communities and organizations.

Our efforts are focused on several priorities, grounded on the shared spirit of our people and the ties of the soul between the two countries. First, Japan will work on reconstructing the roads in the region and bringing pilgrims back to the holy shrines in the Himalaya. Our work is guided by the ideals which the people in the two countries share for years – the spirit of pilgrimage. Uttarakhand is the place for pilgrimage from across India from and pilgrimage in Japan began over 1,200 years ago when holy men, called Hijiri, would seclude themselves to practice spiritual austerities in the mountains. The shared ideal of the Japanese and Indians, pilgrimage, is the foundation of Japan-India cooperation in Uttarakhand.

Second, Japan will work on rebuilding the communities and supporting local people to enhance their income. We will cooperate with India and the state of Uttarakhand to rebuild the villages in the region, support local people’s income generation activities and develop Van Panchayat, strong village level institutions by building their capacity and making them self-reliant. Through this program, 2,000 communities will be rebuilt and 30,000 local people’s income will enhanced on sustainable basis. In a few months, JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) teams are beginning to arrive and start working on detail plan together with the State Government involving local communities.

Third, Japan will work on eco-restoration activities such as afforesting and soil moisture conservation. Japan has been the largest partner for India for its forest conservation effort for more than 20 years, providing more than 2 billion USD over the 22 forest project in 13 states in India. The two distinguished professionals from Japan are already sent to the forest of Uttarakhand as JICA experts. Mr. Yasuhisa Tanaka, the leading forest expert with its 36 years career in the Forest Agency of Japanese Government, and Ms. Atsuko Godo has been working with the forest officials and people on the ground in Uttarakhand. Through this project, 50,000 hectare forests are revived in 1,000 villages in Uttarakhand.