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Volume 527: debated on Tuesday 3 May 2011

12. What reports he has received on the situation in Japan following the recent earthquake and tsunami; and if he will make a statement. (53531)

The earthquake and tsunami of 11 March have had a devastating impact on Japan. As of 27 April, 14,508 people have been confirmed dead, and 11,452 are still missing. There are no confirmed UK casualties. The UK has mobilised various resources to help the Japanese Government. We have sent a search and rescue team and provided other forms of support to the Japanese Government, including nuclear assistance. We receive regular reports from the Japanese authorities regarding ongoing work to make safe the Fukushima nuclear plant, and we are ready to offer further technical assistance as required.

Japan is a major friend, ally and trading partner of the UK, and it is right that we should be there for a friend in need. Will the Minister tell us what help is being given to assist its economic recovery, and what steps are being taken to help following the nuclear disaster?

I completely agree with my hon. Friend’s assertion about the deep friendship between the United Kingdom and Japan. We have expressed that friendship and it has been evident in our actions. Our economies are intertwined, but we are also leading the debate within the European Union on a free trade agreement between the EU and Japan.

Has the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority in the UK been asked to supply any expertise on the decommissioning of contaminated water at the plant? I understand that that is one of the more considerable problems that the Japanese authorities are facing.

We have made it clear to the Japanese from the outset that we are willing to offer any expertise that might benefit them, but it is worth reminding the House that Japan is an extremely sophisticated country with an extremely developed economy and highly reputable scientists. It is therefore able to make many of those decisions for itself.