By Fuat Kabakci
ISTANBUL (AA) - Japan is to carry out education, health and nutrition projects to help overcome the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East, according to a former prime minister, as he pledged a multi-million dollar donation to the region over the next three years.
In an interview with Anadolu Agency on the sidelines of the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul on Sunday, Yasuo Fukuda said that it was ready to do everything it could to assist those suffering.
"The Japanese government has decided to donate $6 million dollars in aid over the next three years," said Fukuda, a short-lived Japanese premier from 2007 to 2008.
"Japan is ready to do all it can during the humanitarian crisis. We are ready to give financial aid," he said, adding that his country is ready to support Syrian refugees with education, health and nutrition projects.
In March 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake shook Japan, sending a tsunami through the country's northeastern coastal communities killing almost 16,000 people.
Among the thousands who volunteered to assist Japan in an enormous clean up operation were many people from Turkey.
"Japan will never forget the selflessness of the Turkish people," said Fukuda.
"We like the Turkish community; we feel that the Turkish people show closeness to the Japanese people," he said, adding that trade between the two countries had shown an increase in recent years.
He underlined, however, that relations between the two countries must be stronger.
"We must make a greater effort in this sense. Our human resources must be further enhanced. More young people from Turkey must visit Japan, opt for education here and be an example for the rest to follow," he said.
"Apart from this, the number of tourists from both sides must increase for the communities to come closer."