Disaster-hit areas in Japan to host international meeting on natural disasters

The Japanese government will host a ministerial-level international conference on natural disasters in early July in the three prefectures hit hardest by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, according to Foreign Ministry officials. The conference is an opportunity for other countries to share lessons from and responses to disasters. The government also hopes to use the conference to showcase restoration and reconstruction efforts after the Great East Japan Earthquake last May and boost tourism in the disaster-hit areas, they said.

The two-day conference's main venue will be in Sendai, with three satellite venues to be set up in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, according to the officials. Japan plans to invite countries that have been hit by large-scale natural disasters in recent years, such as Thailand, which suffered serious damage from last year's flooding, and Indonesia, hit by a massive earthquake in 2004. Latin American and African countries, which are prone to hurricanes and drought, respectively, are also expected to be invited, the officials said.

Japan will chair the conference. It will report on the Great East Japan Earthquake and examples of other natural disasters overseas, as well as facilitate discussions on such themes as how to manage disasters or minimize damage, emergency response measures and compiling recovery and reconstruction plans, according to the officials. Trips to the disaster-hit areas are also planned, they said.

On the final day, organizers will compile a final report, which the government hopes will be reflected in the international guidelines on disaster management that the U.N. World Conference on Disaster Reduction will revise in 2015, they added.

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