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The Jan. 31 article “GSDF engineers await Haiti duty” states that the United Nations would request that Japan send a Ground Self-Defense Force unit (350 members) to help with peacekeeping operations in quake-stricken Haiti. The article mentions that Japan would send an advance team to Haiti by Feb. 6 to prepare for the GSDF dispatch to Port-au-Prince.

As a Japanese citizen, I feel proud that Japan is always willing to send relief to people and countries that suffer from a devastating natural disaster. However, I wonder why it always takes so long for Japan to speedily process and implement its relief efforts. The quake hit Haiti on Jan. 12. Almost immediately, China, Taiwan, France, Spain and the United States sent rescue teams and medics to Haiti.

I understand that in order to provide effective aid there is a need to assess the situation, but when a country has lost the power to operate, as Haiti has, how long should it take to respond? It seems to me that Japan should adopt measures to address emergency situations more effectively. Japan should establish a system for coordinating a response by all relevant institutions. For that, the Prime Minister’s Office should take the leading role. At the same time, the private sector and nongovernment organizations should collaborate with the government by supplying people and equipment.

erika hiramatsu

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