May 9, 2011
The Yomiuri Shimbun
The following is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun's May 9 issue.
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Sri Lanka, an island nation shaped like a teardrop from the Indian subcontinent, is also called The Pearl of the Indian Ocean. Located southwest of Sri Lanka are 1,200 islands, which make up the Maldives, whose name derives from a Sanskrit word meaning "garland of islands."
Both Sri Lanka and Maldives were damaged by a massive tsunami triggered by a major earthquake that occurred off Sumatra in 2004. Likely in thanks for Japanese assistance following the 2004 quake, both countries sent relief goods to the districts hit hard by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Sri Lanka sent tea, its specialty, while Maldives sent between 600,000 and 700,000 cans of tuna.
The Indian Ocean is known for its fishing grounds. A tuna cannery was built in Maldives with financial assistance from Japan. The amount of canned tuna sent to the disaster-affected districts is equivalent to at least two cans per Maldivian, and is more than could be transported to Japan in a single flight.
Maldives is also worried about the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
This is because the country, having a level terrain--its highest point of land is only 2.4 meters above sea level--may see its territory disappear if global warming causes the sea level to rise or the coral reefs that encompass the territory to die out.
In the wake of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima plant, the worldwide drive for promoting nuclear power--relied on as a clean energy that does not generate greenhouse gases--is likely to lose steam.
Packed tightly in the tuna cans is hope that the nuclear crisis will be brought under control and a desire to protect the garland of islands surrounded by the cobalt blue sea.
(May. 12, 2011)