Meeting at the Kremlin with Emergency Situations Ministry rescuers who took part in the rescue operations in Japan


Photo: the Presidential Press and Information Office
Meeting with Emergency Situations Ministry rescuers who took part in rescue operations in Japan.
March 28, 2011

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Acting on the President’s instructions, the rescuers worked in Sendai and Ishinomaki, the Japanese towns hardest hit by the earthquake and tsunami. The rescue operations took place on March 15-22, 2011.

Taking part in the meeting at the Kremlin were Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu, personnel from the Centre for High-Risk Rescue Operations Leader and the Emergency Situation Ministry’s Far East Regional Centre, and also rescuers from the Central Airborne Rescue Detachment and the Emergency Situations Ministry Department for Aviation and Air Rescue Technology.

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I want to start by thanking you of course for the work that you did in Japan. This disaster that struck Japan is terrible, probably one of the greatest and most tragic disasters on our planet over this last decade. Tens of thousands of people have been killed or simply disappeared.

It was only natural that our country, like others, should respond to this terrible catastrophe, this ultimately global disaster, despite the fact that, as you know, not all is smooth sailing in our relations with our Japanese partners.

There are issues on which our countries share very similar views, and there are also issues on which we have our differences. But in this situation our duty was simply to help our neighbours and partners, and of course it is the Emergency Situations Ministry that provides the first line of assistance. You did a worthy job.

As far as I know, our detachment, with 161 people, was the biggest of all the rescue brigades other countries sent to Japan. This in itself is clear evidence of our desire to help our neighbours, and at the same time it also demonstrates our ability to provide this kind of support. 

I spoke with the Japanese Prime Minister just a few days after the disaster struck. We had a lengthy and serious conversation. I could sense what a difficult time the Japanese authorities are going through, and at the same time I could also sense how important it was for them to receive this kind of help and support from Russia, a neighbour with whom they have a diverse range of relations, and yes, with whom there are differences too. But when the hand of friendship is extended in these kinds of circumstances it perhaps takes on even greater meaning.

I am sure that you have found friends and colleagues among the Japanese, grateful to you for the work that you performed in very difficult conditions. I also want to thank the Emergency Situations Ministry’s aviation department for arranging transport home for our citizens in Japan who wanted to return to Russia, seeing the way events were developing.  

We were ready whatever the circumstances, and offered transport home to our citizens, and to citizens of our close neighbours, who have roots in the Russian Federation. This was important too, important for a large number of our people. Of course another vital part of the work you did was transporting cargoes of humanitarian aid to Japan. 

I therefore want to thank you once again for all of this work. I think that our team carried out its mission in worthy fashion. Conditions there were far from easy. I hope you will share some of your experiences with us, because many of us, not just myself, will be interested to hear about it. I have been in regular contact with the minister, Mr Shoigu, who has kept me updated of course on your work, the tasks before you, and the difficulties or problems you have faced.

But your experiences are of interest too to the millions of people here who have been anxiously following developments in Japan. Tremors still continue in the earthquake zone, close to Japan’s islands and our territory too. And so of course people are following events very attentively.

Once more, I thank you for your work, and I ask you to perhaps say a few words about it now.

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