Taiwan's office in Japan to beef up emergency response mechanism
Taipei, Sept. 13 (CNA) Taiwan's representative office in Japan will review its emergency response mechanism, including beefing up its communication with the Taiwan Tourism Bureau, to offer better services to its overseas nationals in post-natural disaster assistance efforts, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said Wednesday.
Wu's comments came in response to criticism of the office and its top representative, Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), for not doing enough to help 1,000 Taiwanese tourists stranded in Japan after it was hit by a super typhoon and a magnitude 6.7 earthquake last week.
An online post accused Taiwan's office in Osaka of being reluctant to help Taiwanese there who sought assistance after massive flooding caused by Typhoon Jebi led to the closure of Kansai International Airport.
The post sparked criticism by netizens who blamed Hsieh for not doing his job, instead spending his time sparring with his political enemies, just when stranded Taiwanese tourists needed his office's help the most.
The accusation was referring to a Sept. 5 Facebook post made by Hsieh, in which the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) heavyweight criticized opposition Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), with whom Hsieh has had a decades-long feud.
Asked to comment, the foreign minister said Wednesday that Hsieh and his office could have done better regarding its post-disaster emergency assistance to Taiwanese travelers in Japan.
The person responsible for answering a 24/7 emergency hotline at the Osaka office needs to make adjustments and an updated emergency response mechanism needs to be established, he said.
The overseas office's contact with the Tourism Bureau, which has more detailed information on the numbers of Taiwanese tour groups worldwide than overseas offices, needs to be improved as well, the minister added.
He said Hsieh will convene a meeting with all of Taiwan's six offices in Japan, which consist of its headquarters in Tokyo, along with branch offices in Osaka, Sapporo, Yokohama, Naha and Fukuoka, to review the existing mechanism for offering emergency assistance.
Hsieh announced Tuesday at a press event in Tokyo that the meeting will take place Sept. 15.
His office in Tokyo had already convened a meeting Sept. 10 to review the post-disaster relief work that has been criticized by many.
"I believe every diplomat in Japan has learned a lesson, including Hsieh," the foreign minister said.
Meanwhile, he told reporters that the government has no plans to donate money to Japan to assist with post-disaster relief work, as Japan has said it does not require money.
However, a 40-strong special search and rescue team equipped with the latest life detection equipment and two trained dogs are on standby, ready to be sent to Japan should Tokyo make a request for post-quake relief, he added.
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