The requiem service was held in Yerevan’s Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral nearly two months after the calamity that killed more than 25,000 people.
“In the great family of mankind created by God, each of us has a moral obligation and responsibility to extend a hand and console all of our brothers who are bearing the heavy burden of disaster or tragedy,” Garegin said in a sermon delivered at the end of the religious ceremony.
“Catastrophe, pain and loss do not recognize ethnicity and borders,” he told hundreds of people attending it. “Our people were the witnesses to this knowledge and expression of conviction, by receiving aid during the years of the Armenian Genocide, as well as the terrible earthquake of 1988, when many countries, among them Japan, extended their hand of assistance to Armenia in brotherhood.”
The Armenian government allocated $500,000 in humanitarian assistance to Japan last month.
Sarkisian likewise mentioned the 1988 earthquake, which left some 25,000 Armenians dead, at a meeting with Japan’s visiting Deputy Foreign Minister Hisashi Tokunaga earlier on Wednesday.
“We admire the courage and perseverance shown by your people in response to that severe blow of destiny,” Sarkisian was quoted by his press office as saying. He said the Armenian government is “attentively following” the ongoing Japanese efforts to eliminate consequences of serious accidents at the Fukushima nuclear plant.
According to a statement by the office, Tokunaga said that Japan will continue to provide economic assistance to Armenia despite the disasters.
Japan has been one of the country’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.