October 13, 2012 (Tokyo): Qatar Friendship Fund (QFF) has opened the doors to its first mega-project, 'Maskar', a 24.3 million USD multifunctional fishery processing plant, in Onagawa, Japan. QFF is a gift to Japan from H.H. Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the Emir of the State of Qatar and the people of Qatar. It offers rehabilitation efforts to those affected by the Great Earthquake and Massive Tsunami of 2011.
Present at the opening ceremony in Onagawa were a number of dignitaries and VIPs from both Qatar and Japan. These included H.E. Mr. Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Attiyah, President of the Administrative Control and Transparency Authority of the State of Qatar and Chairman of the Higher Organizing Committee; Qatars Minister of State for Foreign Affairs H.E. Dr. Khalid Bin Mohammad Al Attiyah,; H.E Mr Yousef Bilal, Qatar Ambassador to Japan; Mr.Yoshiaki Suda, Mayor of Onagawa Town; Mr. Takeju Ogata, President Japan Foundation; and Mr. Takahashi Takanobu, President of Onagawa Fish Market Buyers Cooperative.
H.E. Abdullah Al Attiyah, Chairman of the Administrative Control and Transparency Authority, made a speech and highlighted the friendship between Qatar and Japan saying "Qatar Friendship Fund emphasizes the friendship between Qatar and Japan and seeks to touch the lives of people in a real and positive way." Speaking on behalf of H.H. Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the Emir of the State of Qatar, and H.H Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, Heir Apparent of the State of Qatar, he added that Qatar Friendship Fund was proud to offer its support to Tohoku's road to recovery and that the opening of 'Maskar', the Onagawa Fishery Processing Plant was a major milestone on that journey.
During the opening ceremony H.E. Dr Khalid Bin Mohammad Al Attiyah, Qatar's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, handed over the key of the plant to Onagawa's fishery community. H.E was pleased of QFF's to date achievements and highlighted that "Qatar Friendship Fund was formed to offer long-term support for those affected by the Great East Earthquake and Massive Tsunami. 'Maskar' is a symbol of the strong friendship between Qatar and Japan." H.E. Dr Khalid Bin Mohammad Al Attiyah then graciously thanked the Japanese people on behalf of H.H. Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, and H.H Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, Heir Apparent of the State of Qatar and added the wish that this small gesture which would bring prosperity and hope to many.
The 2011 Great East Earthquake and Massive Tsunami devastated many coastal towns in Japan's Tohoku region that lead to the critical damage of the fishing industry. Prior to the disaster Onagawa was renowned for its Saury "Samna" catches, but as a result of the catastrophe 85% of the fishery infrastructure was destroyed. This is particularly alarming considering that over 60% of the people of Onagawa are employed in the fishing industry.
Reviving the fishing industry is now key to reversing this, not only for Onagawa but also for nearby towns for whom 'Maskar' offers a beacon of hope,
The Chairman of Onagawa Fish Market Buyers' Association, Mr. Takahashi Takanobu expressed his gratitude saying: "This marks a positive step forward for our industry and we wish to thank Qatar Friendship Fund and H.H. Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, and H.H Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, Heir Apparent of the State of Qatar, for their support. Thousands will directly or indirectly find jobs here and we will try very hard to continue the good work that has been started."
Maskar' will start its operations on the 17th of October and will offer significant benefits. Operationally it is expected to have an annual freezing capacity of 12,500 tons and a storage capacity of 36,000 tons. In addition, Onagawa's fishing processing productivity will increase by 70% and will generate a market value and ripple effect of YEN 5 billion offering job opportunities for about 7,200 fishermen.
Mr. Takahashi Takanobu, President of Onagawa Fish Market Buyers Cooperative stated that this project would set new global benchmarks. Explaining that the plant's design employs several counter-Tsunami innovations and energy efficient features. This includes a first level constructed on a stilted structure so that water passes through, a second level to house refrigeration equipment that can store up to 6,000 tons of goods and a third level that is elevated above Tsunami level forming a community evacuation area. The design also incorporates energy saving features.
The origin of the name "Maskar', reflects a traditional Qatari fishing method which made use of the tides to capture fish in shallow rock pools. In Qatar's hot climate, the pools ensured that the catch was kept fresh and alive. The name was therefore fitting for the facility because its design works with tide movement to offer Tsunami protection. In addition this 7,760 square meter-processing plant will likewise preserve fish using state of the art industrial refrigeration.
H.E. Mr. Yousef Bilal, Qatar's Ambassador to Japan and Chairman of QFF confirmed that Maskar would benefit thousands: "Qatar and Japan enjoy a strong partnership that is built on mutual understanding, respect and trust and Qatar's commitment to Japan is reflected through the Qatar Friendship Fund's work. On behalf of H.H. Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, and H.H Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, Heir Apparent of the State of Qatar, we offer our heartfelt support. We sincerely hope that the opening of Maskar will make a difference to the lives of those affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Massive Tsunami."
The opening of 'Maskar' represents a major step forward in the work of the Qatar Friendship Fund. Notably, H.E. Abdullah Al Attiyah concluded his speech by thanking all who were involved in its implementation, and expressing his enthusiasm for QFF's achievements.