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Chinese return to help in rebuilding efforts

By Wang Chenyan and Zhao Shengnan (China Daily)

09:28, March 12, 2012

Chinese nationals haven't forgotten the help they received from their Japanese friends after the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami and are determined to return to the disaster-ravaged areas to help with reconstruction efforts.

Among the three prefectures of northeast Japan hit hardest by the disaster, Miyagi is the place where most Chinese nationals live. It is the home to more than 7,000 Chinese nationals, including 2,000 students living in the capital city of Sendai.

At least eight Chinese nationals were killed by the earthquake and tsunami, including seven in Miyagi.

Five Chinese trainees returned to Miyagi last month to resume training at a seafood-processing plant in the town of Onagawa. The company's senior managing director, Mitsuru Sato, 55, was swept away and killed by the tsunami after evacuating the trainees to higher ground.

Premier Wen Jiabao expressed gratitude to Sato during a visit to Miyagi last May, saying "I highly praise his act of helping people regardless of nationality."

There were around 160 Chinese trainees at 19 seafood-processing firms in Onagawa as of last March.

About 20 have returned to Japan to resume their jobs.

According to Japan's Justice Ministry, the preliminary number of registered foreign residents in Japan was 2,078,480 at the end of 2011, down 55,671 from the previous year. Miyagi loss 13.2 percent of its foreign residents.

Chinese nationals were the largest group of foreigners, with 674,871 registered as living in Japan. Many of them are making contributions to the disaster-affected coastal areas.

Miyagi Govoverner Yoshihiro Murai expressed gratitude to China on Saturday for the assistance it provided to them.

Despite the help, many challenges remain in rebuilding the prefecture. Jun Oika, assistant director of the employment affairs division of Miyagi local government, said that the number of people out of work reached 47,000 after the tsunami. The total population is about 1.7 million.

To heal the wounds of the local people, a pair of giant pandas may be sent from China to a zoo in Sendai.

The idea originated from a correspondence between Premier Wen Jiabao and a Japanese girl he met during a visit to Miyagi in last May.


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