Monday, March 21, 2011

ZIMBABWE: Japan envoy weeps, cancels donation

Zimbabwe's Maternal Health delivery system has been dealt a major blow after the Japanese government through its embassy re-scheduled the US$5.6 million grant signing ceremony that was due to take place on Friday at the UNICEF offices in Harare.

The Japanese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Koichi Morita was openly in tears as he addressed the guests that had gathered to witness the ceremony moaning the tragic developments taking place in his Asian country where thousands of people have lost their lives due to the devastating earthquake and Tsunami that wrecked the country.

“I have not received communication from my Minister in Tokyo, so we have decided to suspend all international commitments here as the government is currently trying to take care of the situation back home,” said Morita.

Although he tried to contain the agony deep inside him, Ambassador Morita delivered his emotional apology speech in tears as he breathed hard, whipped and was literary stuck and ran out of words before breaking into a childhood cry.

“People are dying in Japan and…I…do….not..know….what…is on,” sobbed Morita. A moment of silence was then observed.

The Japanese government was to donate to UNICEF and the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare in assisting Zimbabwe achieve Millennium Development Goals numbers 4 and 5, that is reducing the under 5 mortality rate by two thirds by the year 2015 and the improvement of maternal health respectively.

He however told journalists his country had no choice but rely on the nuclear energy as it provide about two thirds of his country’s power.

“What I can tell you is that the country is in a very serious problem right now there is no electricity, clean drinking water, and telephone communication as all these systems have been affected in the affected areas.

“We don’t have much resources in Japan and nuclear plants provide about two thirds of the country’s total power generation,” he said.

He however said the affected nuclear reactors had been shut down and that no nuclear generation was taking place in Japan in the mean time.

“I can assure you that the nuclear reactors in question have been shut-down and no nuclear-chain is taking place as you are aware, the explosions that occurred were brought about by chemical reactions and have nothing to do with nuclear fissile reactions,” he said in a statement.

Invited guests included the Deputy Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr Douglas Mombeshora, the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organisation (UNESCO) Country Representative, Dr Peter Salama, the Resident Representative of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Tsunehiro Kawakita, as well as local and international journalists based in Harare.

Morita thanked the people of Zimbabwe for sympathizing with the Japanese government saying thousands of condolence massages had reached his office from Zimbabweans.

"I am sorry but we will have to cancel this signing ceremony today," Morita said in tears.

"We thank all of you for coming here and we will have to reschedule this important event. I am very touched by the Government of Zimbabwe and all of you who continue to pray and offer us help."

An 8.9 magnitude earthquake and a 10 meter high tsunami wave hit Northeastern Japan at 2.46pm on Friday March 11. At this moment the scale of devastation is still not completely clear, but thousands of people have died and hundreds of thousands are affected.

The disaster is the worst in Japan in more than 140 years.