Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao extended ''deep condolences'' Monday to Japanese people affected in Friday's earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan, and expressed readiness to offer more support in light of the country's needs.
''I want to use today's opportunity to extend our deep condolences to the lost lives in this disaster, and to express our sincere sympathy to the Japanese people,'' Wen said at a news conference at the end of the annual parliamentary session. ''We will provide more (relief supplies) in light of the needs of the Japanese side.''
Wen made the comments after the Commerce Ministry said Beijing will provide 30 million yuan, or about 370 million yen, in emergency humanitarian assistance to Japan to support its disaster relief operations from the magnitude 9.0 quake and ensuing tsunami.
The Chinese government has started humanitarian emergency relief operations for quake and tsunami-hit areas in Japan, and the first batch of relief materials, including blankets, tents and emergency lights, will be transported to Japan from Shanghai, the official Xinhua News Agency quoted the ministry as saying.
Wen voluntarily raised the earthquake issue before wrapping up the news conference that mostly focused on domestic affairs, possibly indicating China's willingness to improve relations with Japan. He is scheduled to visit Japan in May for a trilateral summit with Japan and South Korea.
China-Japan ties saw a sharp deterioration last year after Japan's coast guard arrested a Chinese trawler captain following collisions with Japanese patrol ships off the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea in September last year. The islets are administered by Japan but claimed by China.
Wen said that just like Japan, China is prone to earthquake disasters, emphasizing, ''We fully understand the hardship that Japan experiences now.''
The premier recalled the Japanese government sent a rescue team and relief materials to China when a massive earthquake hit Sichuan Province in 2008.
A 15-member Chinese rescue team began search and rescue operations Monday in Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture, northeastern Japan, according to the website of the Chinese Embassy in Japan.
On Saturday, China's Red Cross Society decided to donate 1 million yuan, or about 12.4 million yen, in emergency aid to its Japanese counterpart.
A national memorial service will be held on April 21, 2010 for those killed in the 7.1-magnitude quake that struck Yushu, Qinghai province, the State Council announced. On April 2