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New Zealand, Japanese disaster workers discuss earthquakes

(Xinhua)

15:11, March 07, 2012

WELLINGTON, March 7 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand disaster response officials are meeting with Japanese counterparts to swap advice and ideas on recovering from major earthquakes that devastated parts of both countries last year.

A group of leading Japanese scientists and senior government officials would arrive in New Zealand Thursday to share disaster management expertise, New Zealand officials announced Wednesday.

New Zealand's Civil Defence Emergency management director John Hamilton said they would take part in a three-day workshop in Wellington and Christchurch to identify projects of practical use to the recovery in Tohoku prefecture in Japan and Christchurch.

The workshop would finish with an inspection of the Christchurch central business district on Saturday, the eve of the one-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku.

The workshop was a joint initiative of the Japanese and New Zealand Ministries of Foreign Affairs and New Zealand's Ministry of Civil Defence and Ministry of Science and Innovation.

The event also had a wider aim of encouraging collaboration between Japanese and New Zealand, universities, research institutes and other science agencies, Hamilton said in a statement.

"We have a lot to offer and to learn from each other," Hamilton said.

"Our common aim is to make our own countries safer and more resilient, and also to share the hard lessons we have learned to help others."

The scientists would work in three groups studying soil behavior in earthquakes, the interaction of soil and structures in earthquakes, and recovery and reconstruction with the flexibility to look at other topics if the opportunity arose.

The seminar was one of a range of bilateral events to mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries this year.

The earthquake in Christchurch on Feb. 22 last year killed 185 people, while the Tohuku earthquake and tsunami claimed an estimated 15,000 lives.

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