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May 27, 2016 11:19

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08:55 11 March 2016

U.N. chief upholds Japan as model of disaster prep

NEW YORK, March 10, Kyodo

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon on Thursday held up Japan's disaster preparedness efforts as a model to the world ahead of the fifth anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated large parts of the country's northeast.

"The rest of the world has much to learn from Japan, if we are to make progress on saving lives and livelihoods, and reducing disaster losses," he said in a statement.

On March 11, 2011 a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami struck northeastern Japan wreaking havoc as more than 15,000 were killed and more than 2,500 still remain unaccounted for in the hardest hit prefectures. The natural catastrophe also led to nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The "unprecedented" disaster, he said, taught the world a great deal about "the changing nature of exposure to risk and disaster."

"After Fukushima, it became clear that we are in a new era in which technology and natural disasters can combine to create danger of a previously unimaginable scale."

An outcome of the cataclysmic event helped shape the so-called Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, which was adopted as an international guideline of action at a U.N. conference in Sendai, Japan, last March.

"Japan has shown the world how important it is to pause for reflection, to examine the lessons learned from past calamities and to raise public awareness of the importance of prevention and mitigation," he also said.

Last year at a plenary session the General Assembly adopted a resolution to mark Nov. 5 as World Tsunami Awareness Day. The date was picked to coincide with a day in 1854 when a Japanese farmer in Hiromura village set his rice sheaves on fire to warn neighbors of the incoming tsunami, thus saving countless lives.

==Kyodo

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