From New Delhi


Three days after returning from Rio de Janeiro, March 3, I departed for New Delhi for 2 day meetings. It had been a while since my last visit, and the airport was nicer and the city seemed to have changed. However, there have not been changes as major as the transformations taking place in China.

The main purpose of my trip was to give a speech at the “India-Japan Cooperation on Disaster Preparedness and People’s Network” conference, and to visit for meetings with the officials of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and its sub organization, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF). My friend Dr. Sunil Chacko (1) organized the events.

The Indian government is enthusiastic about cooperating with Japan and since India uses nuclear power, there are many lessons to be learned from the Fukushima nuclear accident- thus they were kind enough to invite me. Professor Naruo Uehara, who was at Tohoku University and has been actively working on the recent disaster (we met twelve or thirteen years ago regarding a medical accident issues) also attended.

During the trip, I met with many high government officials. Japanese Vice Minister to India, Mr. Tsukada of the Foreign Ministry, who fully supported me at the time of the first Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize (1, 2) five years ago, spent much time on the conferences which was highly appreciated by the organizers.

The Indian government’s NDMA is an organization separate from the fire department, police, and military, and is composed of 11,000 people deployed in ten locations. After the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, under the leadership of Commandant Alok Avasthy, a team of about fifty were dispatched to the town of Onagawa in Miyagi Prefecture, and were active in the first stages of disaster relief. We expressed our feelings of gratitude and greeted each member of the team, and gave my powerpoint presentation to Commandant Avasthy.

Interaction and communication that takes place outside of government is also one of the foundations of diplomacy. Activities not only between nations, but also on the everyday level are vital for developing good relations.