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Tuesday, 22 March 2011
Page: 2835

Mr McCORMACK (8:33 PM) —Japanese people are proud people. They are resilient, dignified and disciplined. Their stoicism will never be more tested than in the days, weeks and months ahead. While essential services will be restored as quickly as possible and buildings, roads and other infrastructure will be reconstructed in good time, it will take many years to recover from the disaster which has unfolded and, for many, with lives lost and entire communities gone, their world will never be the same.

The recent magnitude 9.0 earthquake which struck Japan resulted in much damage. Despite many smaller aftershocks, thinking the worst was over, many people began to clean up once the shaking had stopped. But, 15 minutes after northern Japan was hit by the earthquake, the ocean unleashed a 10-metre tsunami which swept boats, cars, buildings and tonnes of debris up to 10 kilometres inland.

Many almost could not believe what they were seeing via news footage as video showed a muddy torrent of water carrying cars and wrecked homes at high speed across farmland near the coastal city of Sendai. Ships had been flung onto a harbour wharf, where they lay helplessly on their sides; boats, cars and trucks were tossed around as if they were toys in the water; and entire towns were flattened. Thousands are dead. Many more are still missing. This is a tragedy which keeps getting worse. The threat of a disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power station still holds grave concern for people right across the globe. Yet through tragedy come small miracles which restore our belief in human nature, stories of remarkable survival, of rescue, of hope. Our thoughts are for those who have lost their friends and families.

Many Australians who reside in Japan have refused to leave. Many have stated their reason to stay is that they have a home to go to, whereas the people of Japan do not. They want to stay and help the people who have housed them so well and they want to help them get their magnificent country back to liveable conditions. Australia and Japan have a long history. We have fought against each other, yet now we fight side by side against one of the cruellest blows Mother Nature can throw at us. As the death toll will, sadly, increase in the days ahead and the heartache will continue, Australians will stand firm and do what we do best: we will be a support and we will be a great strength.

I extend the most sincere condolences of my Riverina electorate, where Japan has many friends through Charles Sturt University, through our agricultural trade and through many other endeavours and walks of life. I will finish with a Japanese proverb, ‘Kishi kaisei’, which translated literally means, ‘Wake from death and return to life’. The Japanese believe it to mean: to come out of a desperate situation and make a complete return in one sudden burst.