The Armenian government approved on Thursday $500,000 in humanitarian assistance to victims of a powerful earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan last month.
“We are performing our moral duty,” Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian said during a weekly session of his cabinet. “All of us realize that this is a political action and has a primarily moral component, in terms of demonstrating the attitude of our people.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian told governments members that Armenia was ready to send a team of rescuers to Japan immediately after the March 11 calamity. But he said the Japanese government preferred financial assistance during contacts with the Armenian side.
Kocharian also emphasized the fact that Japan was one of the first countries to provide relief aid to Armenia after the December 1988 earthquake that killed some 25,000 Armenians and left hundreds of thousands of others homeless.
Japan has also been one of Armenia’s major foreign donors since independence. As recently as last summer, the Japanese government donated 28 fire engines worth $8 million to the Yerevan division of the Armenian Rescue Service.
Sarkisian’s government also announced that it will take delivery of $3.2 million worth of humanitarian assistance from China next week. He said a leading member of the Chinese Communist Party will arrive in Yerevan on the occasion.
A separate government statement said the aid will be provided within the framework of a Chinese-Armenian agreement on “technical cooperation.” It gave no details.