"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] Address by the Prime Minister to the Memorial Ceremony Marking the Tenth Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake

[Date] March 11, 2021
[Source] Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet
[Notes] Provisional Translation
[Full text]

I offer with great humility my commemorative address on behalf of the government at the Memorial Ceremony Marking the Tenth Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake graced by the presence of Their Majesties, the Emperor and Empress.

Ten years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake claimed many irreplaceable lives and caused unprecedented damage, primarily in the Tohoku region.

My heart aches in empathy and overflows with sorrow and condolences for those who have lost beloved family members, relatives and friends. Today, I would like to offer my deepest and sincerest commiserations and extend my most profound sympathies to all those affected by the catastrophe.

Reconstruction has progressed steadily in disaster-stricken areas in the decade since the earthquake wreaked its devastation. Homes have largely been reconstructed, and towns have been revived to a great extent in the areas affected by the earthquake and the consequent tsunami. The task of reconstruction is now entering its final phases in these regions.

Evacuation orders were lifted last year for all areas of the disaster-affected areas of Fukushima that were severely damaged by the nuclear accident except for the difficult-to-return-to zones. Evacuation orders were lifted for the first time even for some parts of the difficult-to-return-to zones, indicating the steady progress of the movement toward reconstruction and revitalisation.

Nonetheless, 2,000 citizens are still confronted with the prolonged inconvenience of evacuation and are still compelled to reside in temporary housing.

The disaster-affected areas still need to address issues such as psychological care. Moreover, these areas have been struck by various hardships, including Typhoon No. 19 two years ago, the novel coronavirus disease since last year, and recently, a large earthquake. The novel coronavirus disease has particularly impacted residents’ daily lives as well as their industries and livelihoods to a great degree.

The government is committed to making every possible effort to respond to the novel coronavirus disease as well as to providing continuous and seamless support to people affected by the disaster to ensure restoration of their lifestyles in accordance with their stage of life. We will steadily implement programmes to improve the living environment, revitalise and bolster industries, regenerate means of livelihood and accelerate the return of citizens to areas affected by the nuclear disaster that require medium- to long-term support. The Second Reconstruction and Revitalisation Period begins next year; in this term, we will strive to the best of our abilities to complete the full-scale restoration and revitalisation of Fukushima Prefecture and accomplish the reconstruction of the Tohoku region.

The invaluable lessons we have learned at the grave costs imposed by the earthquake and its consequent disasters shall never fade. We firmly pledge to incessantly re-examine our disaster prevention and mitigation protocols, to reinforce national territories in all domains and to propel the construction of a disaster-resistant country.

Reconstruction has progressed after the disastrous earthquake occurred, thanks to the tremendous efforts expended by local residents and other concerned individuals and agencies. I would also like to express my profound gratitude and respect to numerous countries and regions for their generous and encouraging support.

It is our obligation to apply the lessons we have accumulated from this earthquake and its consequent disasters and to extend Japan’s disaster prevention knowledge and technology to the amelioration of disaster prevention measures in all countries and regions. We are ready to boost our international contributions in the field of disaster prevention more strenuously than ever before.

We will overcome the novel coronavirus disease and do our very utmost to restore at the earliest possible time our vibrant daily lives in which we enjoy peace of mind.

Our nation has experienced several disasters that could be regarded as national crises. Nonetheless, our predecessors have overcome every crisis with courage and hope. The present generation is now determined to follow their path. We will walk forever facing forward, extending a helping hand to each other.

I would like to conclude my address by offering earnest and heartfelt prayers: may the souls of all those who passed away repose in eternal peace. May all the bereaved families be embraced with peace and tranquillity.

March 11, 2021

Yoshihide Suga

Prime Minister of Japan