Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has begun cooperation with the Iranian Ministry of Science Research and Technology, Tehran Disaster Mitigation and Management Organization (TDMMO) and a number of Iranian universities in the field of disaster risk reduction (DRR) in earthquake, said the chief representative of JICA Iran Office.
Speaking on the sidelines of a seminar titled ‘Seismic Diagnosis Analysis/Study of Structures and Vital Arteries: Iran and Japan Experiences’ in Tehran on Wednesday, Yukiharu Kobayashi told Iran Daily that the seminar provided a very good opportunity to share with Iranian academics and government officials, Japan’s experiences in the field of DRR in earthquake.
“Since as part of our joint project with Iran we are conducting a data correction survey, we invited JICA Senior Advisor on Building Disaster Prevention Tatsuo Narafu to [come to Iran and] help us in this process by sharing his valuable knowledge and expertise with us.”
Narafu delivered a lecture titled ‘Japan Experiences in Seismology Researches and Activities’ in the seminar.
He said the seminar was organized and held by JICA in cooperation with Amir Kabir University, Iran University of Science and Technology, Sharif University of Technology and Tehran University.
Addressing the event, Kobayashi said Japan has been struggling with various types of devastating disasters in its contemporary history such as floods, typhoons, earthquakes, landslides and tsunamis.
He added since 1960’s, Japanese government tried to shift from response oriented approach to preventive approach.
“For instance, repetitive earthquakes encouraged initiatives to establish volunteer positions, and to build a society where multiple stakeholders play different roles before and after disaster.”
He noted that Japan took a leading role in the adoption of the ‘Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-30’ at the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in 2015.
“Based on this framework, JICA provides support for all stages of the disaster rehabilitation and recovery.”
On JICA’s projects in Iran, he said the Japanese agency has been supporting disaster management sector in a close collaboration with TDMMO by implementation of projects from 1998.
One of the significant outputs, Kobayashi noted, was Quick Damage and Loss Estimation system which was introduced to TDMMO as early warning system and Emergency Commanding Headquarters were established in the Iranian organization’s compound after “our project” was completed in 2010.
Elaborating on the nature of JICA, in general, and its activities in Iran, in particular, he told Iran Daily that JICA is a Japanese government affiliated organization.
“It is mainly in charge of implementing ODA (official development assistance) projects, which are intergovernmental activities. Basically, we provide support to developing countries such as those in Asia and Africa. Iran is also among JICA’s target states. We have considerable experience in Iran.”
Commenting on JICA’s scheme for cooperation and activities in the world he said they are mainly focused on three modalities: 1. Offering technical cooperation involving exchanging people and experts between Japan and other states as well as transferring technology and technical knowhow from Japan to other countries, 2. Providing grant aid involving provision of funds to developing countries without the obligation of repayment for improving their health and education sectors and infrastructure, and 3. Providing ODA loans, which are very concessional and have lengthy repayment periods — for instance 40 years — as well as very low interest rates, to developing countries.
Kobayashi noted that so far, a total number of 1,205 Japanese experts have been dispatched by JICA to Iran.
“We also invite Iranian people, mainly government officials, to Japan to attend training programs. So far, a total number of 3,509 Iranian participants have attended such programs in Japan.”
Sometimes, he said, JICA also provides the grant aid for post-earthquake restoration, adding for instance, at the time of the 2003 Bam earthquake in southeastern Iran, the organization provided a grant assistance to the victims of the natural disaster and for the restoration and reconstruction of the city.
JICA chief representative said the Japanese government started its cooperation program in Iran in 1957 when it had not been established yet.
In 1974, he noted, JICA was established, adding it opened its office in Iran in the same year.
“Unfortunately, with the outbreak the eight-year war between Iraq and Iran in 1980, we were compelled to close our Iran office. Of course, in 2005, we reopened it.”
Turning to the areas of cooperation between the Japanese and Iranian governments, he said they have identified nine priority areas for collaboration: 1. Strengthening infrastructure, 2. Enhancement of job creation, 3. DRR, 4. Water resources management, 5. Building strong society, 6. Conservation of natural environment, 7. Environment pollution management, 8. Global warming management, and 9. Strengthening relations with the international community and the surrounding area.
Kobayashi listed JICA’s ongoing projects in Iran as a technical cooperation project pertaining to capacity development on air pollution control, a project to improve medical equipment in Tehran based on the discussions between JICA and the Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education started in 2017, a project in the northern Iranian city of Anzali mainly aimed at preserving the Anzali Wetland, the one aimed at helping revive Lake Urmia in northwestern Iran and two other projects in Qeshm Island in the Persian Gulf — in cooperation with the Qeshm Free Area Organization — to turn Qeshm into an eco-island.
“We are also implementing a large number of pilot projects in Iran.”
On the main motivation of Japanese government for setting up JICA, he said Japan is a very small country, adding thus, it has to import a large number of items.
“That is why we want to make the world more prosperous and peaceful. This was the main reason we decided to extend such kinds of assistance to other countries. Moreover, in the aftermath of the World War II when Japan was in ruins, many countries helped us recover from that tough and unfavorable situation. We gained considerable experience during that period, and have now come to the conclusion that we can share experiences of this kind with other states. In general, our activities are aimed at creating a win-win situation.”