ECB chief pays homage to quake-hit Japan

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European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet paid homage Thursday to Japan as it deals with nuclear and natural disasters, describing images of devastation there as "abominable."

Trichet said the world's third largest economy would rebound but noted that the repercussions from an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown were among the risks facing the 17-nation eurozone economy this year.

Speaking for the ECB's governing council, Trichet told a press conference in Frankfurt: "We admire the resilience of the Japanese people in such dramatic circumstances."

He spoke after the ECB raised its main lending rate for the first time in nearly three years and just before another powerful earthquake struck northeastern Japan.

"All our thoughts are with those who have suffered directly or indirectly from the natural and nuclear disaster," that began on March 11, the bank said in the opening paragraph of its regular meeting statement.

"We wish to express our sincere sympathy to the people of Japan, after the tragic events and lamentable loss of life," it said.

Trichet described the destruction as "really abominable."

The ECB statement noted the potential of an "economic impact on the euro area and elsewhere of the recent natural and nuclear disaster in Japan" but Trichet also said reconstruction would help the economy, as it had after a 1995 earthquake in Kobe.

He added that the Japanese government would have to provide "the ultimate protection" from public finances and underscored that "the credibility of public finances is absolutely decisive."

Such credibility is a major issue in the eurozone, where Portugal said Wednesday that it would have to seek international aid, but also potentially in Japan, which is burdened by the industrialised world's biggest debt of close to 200 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

© 2011 AFP

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