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2008年5月19日 (月)



EDITORIAL: Sichuan earthquake


The devastating earthquake in southwestern China is a calamity of unfathomable proportions. It is said there are still more than 10,000 victims buried under the huge swaths of rubble. The death toll may well surpass 50,000.



Also of unparalleled proportions are the rescue and relief efforts under way in China's Sichuan province. The teams are fighting against time.

Deployed were a total of 130,000 soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army, about 300 transport planes and helicopters, and 10,000 doctors, including infectious disease specialists.



However, the first 72 hours, the limit of the time beyond which those who are buried alive seldom survive, have passed. Desperation is setting in.

A disaster relief team from Japan has arrived at disaster sites in the region. While conditions are growing increasingly difficult, we hope they can still manage to save as many people as possible.



In previous disasters, the Chinese government almost never accepted foreign relief teams; the decision to allow in foreign relief teams was an extraordinary one on the government's part. In addition to Japan, China has decided also to accept teams from South Korea, Russia, Singapore and Taiwan.


The Chinese people are starting to voice their frustration about the slow pace of the rescue operations; there is also growing criticism toward the government. No doubt the government needed to show the people that it is doing everything possible. The decision may also have been a political one, given the upcoming Beijing Olympics, to place a premium on cooperation among neighboring countries.


place a premium on cooperation=協力してもらうために)

Having said all that, we laud the Chinese government's decision to accept outside help, albeit belatedly.


laud=賛美する、褒め称える)(albeit=although であるけれども、発音注意:アルバイトではないオールビートと発音する)


For a country that has always dealt on its own with domestic disasters, seeking foreign help was a striking departure.



The focus of relief efforts will eventually shift to medical help and reconstruction. There are countries highly experienced and skilled in these areas. We hope the Chinese government opens its doors even wider to allow even more outside assistance to enter the country.


In a disaster of this magnitude, it will take a long time to restore towns and villages to livable conditions. Japan should offer long-lasting assistance during that time. Such continued cooperation would no doubt be effective in creating deeper trust between Japan and China.



In sharp contrast is the military junta of Myanmar (Burma), a country struck by a devastating cyclone earlier this month. The junta announced it will accept medical relief teams from countries like India. It seems Myanmar's rulers too are ready to accept relief teams from their neighbors.

But they continue to refuse entry to teams from the West and Japan.


It is now more than 10 days since the cyclone struck Myanmar. The national broadcaster says the number of dead and missing have exceeded 130,000.

A huge number of victims are desperately waiting for relief. This is no time to be selective about who to receive help from.


If only a multilateral relief system could be created in which teams from various countries could rush to help immediately whenever and wherever a disaster strikes. What is most important is for neighbors to help each other.


We hope China's decision to accept foreign relief teams will be the first step in Asia toward the creation of such a system.


--The Asahi Shimbun, May 17(IHT/Asahi: May 19,2008)

朝日新聞5月17日号 (英語版 2008年5月19日発行)


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