Julia Gillard’s tour of Japan takes on a sombre note today when the PM visits one of the communities hardest hit by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.


Minami Sanriku was once a quaint fishing town but it’s been all but wiped off the map with up to half the town’s 20-thousand residents losing their lives.

Ms Gillard will view the devastation from a helicopter before landing to visit an evacuation centre to talk with locals who lost homes and loved ones.

She’ll be accompanied by Rob McNeil the leader of the Australian search and rescue team that helped Japanese authorities search for survivors in the Minami Sanriku wreckage.

Japanese may train with Aust troops: PM

Prime Minister Julia Gillard says Japanese troops could be allowed to train in Australian defence units under a new vision for greater military co-operation by both countries.

The Prime Minister outlined her vision in The Weekend Australian newspaper in an interview in Tokyo on Friday, saying she’s open to exploring the idea of Japan’s soldiers gaining direct experience from their more combat-ready Australian peers, 66 years after World War Two.

Gillard sits down to dinner with Kylie

At a fundraising dinner in Tokyo overnight also attended by Aussie songbird Kylie Minogue the prime minister has announced three initiatives from Australia to help Japan recover from last month’s earthquake and tsunami.

Ms Minogue says she chose to continue with the Japanese leg of her world tour despite ongoing aftershocks and the Fukushima nuclear crisis but she didn’t perform at last night’s gala.

Julia Gillard’s announced a new program will help fund university students academics and professionals from those areas most affected by the disaster to spend some time in Australia.

Ms Gillard’s also announced an ongoing program of 10 Endeavour Scholarships a year for Japan.

The government will also begin a study for an exchange program to allow young Japanese people to teach Japanese in Australian schools.