• Kyodo

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The Philippines sent messages of thanks Saturday to Japan and other nations for their assistance after the nation was heavily damaged by super Typhoon Haiyan last November.

Under the initiative of the Philippine Department of Tourism, the disaster-hit Southeast Asian country displayed thank you messages on electronic billboards in Tokyo and eight other cities including New York and Paris at the exact time the typhoon struck the country at 4:40 a.m. local time, the Tokyo-based Philippine tourism officials said.

In Tokyo, messages thanking people for their support were displayed in Japanese on two tarp banners and on screens of the Qfront building just in front of the “scramble crossing” in the popular Shibuya shopping district.

“When our people were experiencing a devastation that we had never experienced before, a lot of people, especially Japan, helped us,” said Valentino Cabansag, tourism attache and representative to East Japan of the Philippine Department of Tourism in Tokyo.

Japan, which shared a similar experience when it received an outpouring of global support and aid in the wake of the March 2011 quake and tsunami, was one of the countries that responded very quickly, he said.

In the aftermath of the typhoon, which has claimed more than 6,000 lives so far, Japan provided wide-ranging assistance from financial aid to medical teams, and launched the largest international relief mission ever to involve the Self-Defense Forces.

Cabansag said that his country, by delivering a message of gratitude to global donors, wants to show the world that it is entering a phase of rebuilding three months after the disaster and that it hopes boosting Philippine tourism will speed up reconstruction and the broader economy.

The messages in Shibuya will be shown for about two to three weeks. Similar messages were displayed in places that included New York’s Times Square and Lafayette Mogador in Paris, they said.

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