Japan renewed gratitude to H.H. the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and the Kuwaiti people for donating five million barrels of crude oil to support its post-quake reconstruction.
In his speech at a commemorative reception late on Wednesday to mark an arrival of the first shipment of the Kuwaiti oil aid, Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano said, "On behalf of the Japanese government and the people, I would like to extend sincere thanks to H.H. the Amir and the Kuwaiti government and its people for their sense of solidarity and generosity, which are etched in our mind," he said.
A tanker carrying the first batch of the oil donation arrived at JX Nippon Oil Energy Corporation's 340,000-barrel-a-day Negishi refinery in Yokohama, eastern Japan, on Wednesday.
Kuwait's contribution of five million barrels of crude oil, provided through Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC), was decided in April upon directives of H.H. the Amir in the wake of a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami on March 11 that left nearly 21,000 people dead or missing in the northeastern region.
The donation is equivalent to some USD 500 million based on the current crude price and surpasses Japan's daily consumption of 4.4 million barrels. "We deeply appreciate for various support, sympathy and encouragement offered by countries from around the world, especially the generous donation by Kuwait," Edano underlined.
"This donation serves as a jump-start on our reconstruction efforts," said the minister, confirming Japan's determination towards its early recovery.
Noting the aid came at a time when the two countries celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties this year, Edano also said it promotes closer bilateral friendship and comprehensive cooperation.
Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said he highly values the "heartwarming gift" from Kuwait during this difficult time, and regards Kuwaiti Ambassador to Japan Abdulrahman Al-Otaibi as one of his "irreplaceable friends" in Kuwait.
"Ambassador Al-Otaibi paid a visit to the disaster-stricken region to give the people great relief, encouragement and hope. Moreover, his embassy held a charity bazaar to raise funds for the victims. I am truly moved by his initiative action," he underlined.
The donated oil will be delivered to four Japanese refiners by the end of this year, and money to the value of the free oil will be provided to the quake victims through the Japan Red Cross. "In our 134-year-old history, it is the first time that Japan Red Cross has received assistance in a form of crude oil," Japan Red Cross President Tadateru Konoe said in the reception.
"Kuwait's assistance will remain light and hope for the people in the disaster-stricken area," he said. According to Konoe, the organization plans to use the money for the three hardest-hit prefectures of Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima with focusing on eight projects, such as infrastructure recovery and support for education, employment and agriculture.
Meanwhile, KPC CEO Farouk Al-Zanki said he has the honor to attend the historical ceremony in Japan, calling it "a country of rich culture, history and civilization that has contributed in various aspects, both in the economy and technological progress." "Your handling of the earthquake and tsunami disaster offers lessons for nations on dealing with similar crises," Al-Zanki said.
Kuwait has close and old ties with Japan dating back to decades ago, where Arabian Oil Company was the first Japanese company to perform oil exploration 60 years ago.
"Since then, the Japanese-Kuwaiti cooperation has persisted and flourished until it reached current level. Today, we see Japan recovering its production after the disaster, which is an achievement that demonstrates the admirable productivity nature of Japanese people," he noted.
He also ensured a continued stable supply of oil and petroleum products to Japan.
Soon after the disaster, on behalf of the Kuwaiti oil sector, Al-Zanki and KPC executives also paid a visit to the Japanese embassy in Kuwait to convey a message of condolences for the victims and extended their sincere sympathies to the Japanese people.
For his part, Ambassador Al-Otaibi said H.H. the Amir is confident that this support will help eliminate the suffering of the Japanese people, and reassured that Kuwait will remain steadfast in its support for Japan's reconstruction efforts.
"We cannot forget the support that Japan has offered to us since the independence of our country when it recognized it as a sovereign state and when it sustained our righteous causes, until our present day." He also noted the devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami and the consequent nuclear problems are beyond imagination.
"The Japanese people gave admirable examples of sacrifice, loyalty and discipline and have impressed the whole world. Therefore, we have no doubt that the people of Japan, with its spirit, will be able to rebuild Japan and make it even better than it was before," Al-Otaibi said.
The reception was also attended by KPC's high level delegation including International Marketing Managing Director Nassir Al-Mudhaf, Finance and Administration Affairs Managing Director Ali Al-Hajeri, International Marketing Deputy Managing Director Fahad Al-Nashmi as well as representatives from KPC Tokyo office. (end) mk.rk KUNA 131005 Oct 11NNNN