Japan Sends Relief to Victims of Earthquake (off the coast of Sumatra) and Tsunami
JA Group Raises a Fund (January 14, 2005)
JA Zenchu begins, in the spirit of "Asian Symbiosis," to raise a fund for helping its Asian neighbors recover from the widespread damage caused by the killer quake off the coast of Sumatra and the tsunami that followed it. Acting upon a decision made by JA directors, the fund-raising campaign will be conducted throughout the JA Group from January 14 till March 11.
The decision followed a request for assistance made by the International Cooperative Alliance, International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP) and Asian Farmers' Group for Cooperation (AFGC). The recipients of the fund will be selected in consultation with the AFGC and other organizations.
Ministry Sends 20,000 tons of Rice (January 29, 2005)
The Ministry of Agriculture announced a plan on Jan. 28 to send about 20,000 tons of rice through the World Food Programme (WFP) for the relief of the people affected by the recent earthquake and tsunami disaster. Already about 12,500 tons of rice, the rice Japan had imported under the "minimum access opportunities" formula, had reached the port of Medan in Indonesia. The rice will be distributed among the affected people in a few days.
US$20 million (approx. 2 billion yen), out of the $60 million (approx. 6.2 billion) total Japan had contributed to the WFP, will be appropriated for the rice shipment.
The rice is bought up by the WFP at the prices it is currently traded at on international markets. If the price happens to be lower than the prices paid for its import to Japan, the difference will be paid out of the government's Food Control Special Account. Japan had about 1.48 million tons of so-called "minimum access opportunities" rice were in stock as of the end of October 2004.
JA Contributions to Thailand (February 15, 2005)
On February 14, the JA Group delegation delivered to Thailand a 30-million yen relief fund to help it cope after the earthquake and tsunami disaster. Half of the fund will go to the Disaster Relief Fund of Prime Minister Thaksin and the other half to the Cooperative League of Thailand (CLT).
The JA delegation was in Thailand in connection with the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) talks under way between the Japanese and Thai governments. As the two countries are after an agreement that will give equal importance to trade liberalization and cooperation, this JA donation can be regarded as being in line with the spirit of cooperation. Minister of Commerce Wattana thanked JA saying "The Thai people will never forget the warm friendship shown by our Japanese friends."
Charity Musical by High Schoolers (February 16, 2005)
Students of an agricultural school in Yamagata Prefecture are about to hold a charity performance of a play to raise funds to send to the people who suffered the earthquake and tsunami disaster in Thailand and elsewhere.
A part of the proceeds from the play, scheduled for Feb. 19 in Tsuruoka City of the prefecture, and the sale of the related program will be contributed. The students of the prefecture-run Shonai Agricultural Senior High School are now rehearsing hard for the day.
Kazuhiro Ohtomo, a 3rd-year student (18 years of age) and member of the school's theatrical club, initiated the project with a call "Let's raise funds enough for two children to live for one year." Twenty-four other students responded. Since January, they rehearse 3 hours a day except on holidays when they spend 5 to 7 hours a day rehearsing.
The play is called "The Silent Sea." One day an ancient creature is caught off the coast of Indonesia, the tale goes. The encounter with the creature draws people's attention to the harm of farm chemicals humans had used over long years. The play includes a scene in which the students make a presentation using a projector, reminding one a proceeding at the Agricultural Club Council. Such a scene would be inconceivable among students other than those attending agricultural school.
Hiroshi Togashi, a 3rd-year student, interviewed while he was rehearsing said, "We will be never happier if we can be of any help to people in need."
30 Million Yen to Indonesian Farmers (April 19, 2005)
Isami Miyata, JA Zenchu president and other JA delegates currently visiting Jakarta, Indonesia, on April 18, handed 15 million yen to the Indonesian government. The contribution was made out of the fund the JA Group had raised to help relieve the tsunami victims of their sufferings. The donation was made when the JA delegates met with Cabinet Secretary Silalahi and then with Minister of Agriculture Apriyantono.
The JA delegates asked that the entire amount be spent on projects helping in the recovery of the country's agriculture. They donated also 15 million yen to political organizations of Indonesian farmers.