• Kyodo

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Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said Monday he is thankful for the Japanese government’s assistance over a major oil spill despite it not being responsible for the accident, according to Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi.

Motegi spoke by phone with the prime minister for the first time since the oil leakage from a Japanese freighter in July.

Jugnauth asked Japan for continued support to restore the Indian Ocean island nation’s economy and nature following the spill, Motegi told reporters following their conversation, which was carried out at the request of the Japanese government.

Telling him Japan takes a serious view of the accident, Motegi said he promised to provide long-term assistance to Mauritius, including steps to enhance safety at sea and revitalize local fishing communities.

A Mauritian government document has shown it is proposing that Japan pay a total of 1.34 billion Mauritian rupees, equivalent to around ¥3.6 billion ($34 million), to assist the local fishing community affected by the spill.

Motegi said a specific amount of Japanese aid to Mauritius was not discussed in the telephone talks.

Separately, Mauritius is set to seek compensation over the spill from the freighter’s Japanese owner, Nagashiki Shipping Co., and has called for the submission of claims by those who have sustained losses or damage due to contamination.

The Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines Ltd., ran aground on July 25, spilling more than 1,000 tons of oil into the environment.

Mauritius declared a state of environmental emergency on Aug. 7, citing fears over the impact on endangered species such as birds and sea turtles. Fishing off coastal areas impacted by the spill is currently banned.

Japan has so far sent three disaster relief teams to help with oil removal and assess environmental damage.

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