New Zealand can learn from Japan following the earthquakes in both countries and the tsunami in Japan last year, Prime Minister John Key says.

Speaking after visiting a beach township in Miyagi Prefecture today, Mr Key said New Zealand could learn from Japanese construction methods, while Japan was closely watching developments of the Royal Commission into the Canterbury earthquakes.

More than 10,000 people died in the Japanese earthquake that struck on March 11 last year and another 1500 are still missing.

The population of Shichigahama, the township Mr Key visited, is about 20,000. Some 92 people died in the 10m wave that washed over the town.


Mr Key is in Japan on his return journey from APEC in Vladivostok to mark the 60th anniversary of the New Zealand-Japan relationship.

Mr Key said Japanese officials had told him it would take up to 10 years to restore the region to a degree of normality. He said the time scales were similar in New Zealand.

A Ministry of Information spokesman said people on Japan's eastern seaboard were worried the world would forget about the disaster.