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China, Korea, Japan agree to join forces on disaster response

By Elizabeth Shim
China, Korea, Japan agree to join forces on disaster response
Members of Japan Ground Self-Defense Force search for victims in Sendai in 2011, following the massive earthquake on March 11. Japan, Korea and China pledged to cooperate on disaster response on Thursday. UPI/Keizo Mori | License Photo

Sept. 7 (UPI) -- Asia's largest economies are joining forces in the increasingly important area of disaster management.

Officials from South Korea, China and Japan met in China's Hebei Province on Thursday to discuss ways to cooperate on disaster response, Yonhap news agency reported.

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The meeting marks the fifth time representatives of Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo have met to discuss ways to mitigate the impact of floods, earthquakes or cyclones and expand cooperation among the countries known more for being at odds over territorial issues and history.

Seoul's Ministry of the Interior and Safety said the three sides pledged on the necessity of "joint action" when responding to natural disasters such as typhoons, earthquakes and floods.

The representatives also agreed to work within the Sendai Framework.

The framework was endorsed at the United Nations General Assembly in 2015.

It states while a country has the primary responsibility for reducing disaster risk, other "stakeholders" should share that responsibility.

Areas of strengthened cooperation include disaster management policy, technology sharing and education support.

Cooperation among civic groups working in the area of disaster relief is also to be increased, according to the statement.

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South Korean Deputy Minister for Disaster and Safety Management Ryu Hee-in said the desire to "mitigate the risk of disaster has become an opportunity to strengthen practical cooperation among the three countries: Korea, China and Japan."

Low-magnitude earthquakes continue to be reported in coastal waters near Japan, and North Korea's nuclear tests have triggered artificial quakes in China and Russia.

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