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KIZUNA The Bonds of Friendship (Pakistan-Japan Friendship in Context).

Byline: Mr Ariyuki Shibata

"Death is not the greatest loss in life; the greatest loss is when relationship dies inside us while we are alive" (Shakespeare)

Believing in what Shakespeare has said, I have no hesitation in adding that good relations never die; rather they get more strength and vigour in the face of any adversity. This relationship can be between two individuals or among nations of the world. These relations are cemented further if two individuals or the people of two nations join their hands together to help each other in the face of any calamity or natural catastrophe. The key in furthering these relations should be the concept of KIZUNA. KIZUNA is a Japanese word that means "bonds of friendship", a kind of mental linkage between people.

On March 11, 2011 Japan was hit by one of the most powerful earthquakes in recorded history which is called Great East Japan Earthquake. The disaster left thousands of people dead or missing. After this natural calamity of tremendous magnitude, Japan was strongly supported by the international community including Pakistan. The Japanese people deeply appreciated the KIZUNA that was shown to us by friends around the world and especially the Pakistani government and its people. Pakistani nationals, who are living in Japan, provided relief supplies and Pakistani curry to those affected by that catastrophe. This generous support from people of Pakistan led us to truly understand the meaning of "a friend in need is friend indeed".

This love-relationship is a two-way traffic between the two nations!

Pakistan was recently hit by the earthquake in district Awaran of Balochistan province which caused many casualties and loss of property. Following the essence of Kizuna, Islamabad Japanese Association, which is an association of 165 Japanese people living in Islamabad, made a donation of Rs. 68,830 to the Pakistan Army for assisting the victims of the Balochistan Earthquake. The donation was collected at the occasion of Autumn Sports Day which is the annual feature of our activities and was later handed over by me on behalf of the Islamabad Japanese Association on November 26th.

Furthermore, many Japanese nationals resident in Islamabad, alternatively visited collection points in Islamabad and Rawalpindi to contribute food items including sugar, Japanese tea, clothing and money personally.

Though, this may be a very small contribution from the Japanese people living in Islamabad in comparison to the damages and loss of lives, Pakistani people have suffered in Awaran. But I believe it is the sincerity that matters. The Japanese people are determined to stand shoulder to shoulder to Pakistani people in the face of any calamity or challenge they are confronted.

I would like to give a glimpse of this bond of friendship here for the readers. Japan has always stood by Pakistan; no matter it is a natural disaster or economic development of the country. The government of Japan dispatched a disaster relief team to operate six helicopters of the Japan Self-Defence Forces (JSDF) to conduct rescue and transport activities after the heavy floods in 2010. A 23-membered medical team was also dispatched to Pakistan including doctors and nurses to provide medical assistance to the people who were affected by the heavy floods in 2010. The Japanese rescue teams worked closely with Pakistan Army in the Multan region. The Japanese government also extended financial support to the Pakistani government to meet this emergency. Similarly in the deadly earthquake of 2005, the Japanese government and its people were not behind in helping their Pakistani brothers and sisters.

To conclude, I must say that people to people contact is the cornerstone of the modern-day public diplomacy. The people of Pakistan and Japan should interact more actively to understand each other cultures and foster the concept of KIZUNA. The KIZUNA should remain alive in us. I am confident that distance cannot keep us away in the modern-day world. Long Live the Pakistan-Japan Friendship.

The writer is the Chairman of Islamabad Japanese Association.
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Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Dec 31, 2013
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