To all Students Facing the New School Year,
For those of you entering junior and senior high school, and to those students promoted to the next grade level, we would like to express our congratulations to you all at the start of the new school year.
This April was supposed to be a season full of hope. Spring, however, turned out to be a painful time for everyone. As you are all well aware, an unprecedented, massive earthquake and tsunami hit Japan on March 11th. I believe there are students who have lost family members or are commuting to schools directly from temporary shelters.
We have heard of many cases in these shelters where students have taken the initiative in helping the elderly and disabled through cleaning up and preparing food. I have also heard that many of you have actively taken part in volunteering. I sincerely thank you for all your great help.
For all those students who have suffered from the effects of this disaster, you must now face this huge trial during your teens which is a time of great growth for young people.
You may never be able to completely escape from all the pain and worry you now face. It is my hope that by finding at least one thing you can devote yourselves to, whether it is your studies, sports, arts/cultural activities, or volunteering, it will help you face and overcome this sadness in time. Schools will support you in various ways so that you may transcend these adverse circumstances.
I have a request for those students living in areas which were not directly hit by this disaster. Please warmly welcome fellow students taking shelter in your areas. Even if there aren't such classmates right near you, please think of those students living far away under such severe circumstances as your friends. Please also listen to those who have fallen victim to this earthquake.
Our nation and society must make great changes due to this major disaster. How can the country rebuild itself? Japan has always lived in harmony with nature. What must we do to redeem this way of life?
In the process of reconstruction, it is, of course, important to encourage one another to do our best. At the same time, however, in order to build a new society and new relationships, you must also lend an ear to the weaker voices of the vulnerable who are often silenced by bigger voices.
Kenji Miyazawa, who grew up in the Tohoku region, devoted his entire life to improving the lives of Tohoku farmers. Through the power of arts, science, and religion, Miyazawa tried to help these farmers who often faced poor harvests or crop failures due to the cold weather.
Through accepting the opinions of others, I hope you will be able to make rational decisions by developing true wisdom. At the same time, please foster compassion which enables you to pray and cry for others. Furthermore, do not forget to enjoy life through the arts and sports as well.
There is a phrase from Kenji Miyazawa's novel Night on the Galactic Railroad.
"I'm no longer afraid of such darkness. I will search for everyone's true happiness. Let's go on this journey together wherever it may lead."
What does Miyazawa mean by "true happiness"? I would like all of you to think about this during this difficult time.
If we reach the point where we find ourselves truly considering the meaning of Miyazawa's words, I believe we can all progress on this journey together. Eventually, we will be able to reach a new Japan that is far better than before.
Please do not forget that it is not only the Japanese people who are going on this journey. Ever since the Great Tohoku Earthquake hit, Japan has been receiving assistance from all over the world. The international community has commended our people for maintaining their sense of calm even during this time of crisis. The entire planet is with us.
Please do not forget all those firefighters, members of the Japan Self-Defense Forces, and the employees of Tokyo Electric Power Company sacrificing their lives to contain the accident at the nuclear plant. There are also the policemen, medical staff and, most of all, please remember the school teachers who risked their lives for you. By continuing to train your body, mind and soul, I hope that in time, you will develop the compassion to be able to devote yourself to others.
The future of Japan lies on your shoulders. Your laughter and smiles will give those who are now fighting hard to support their families and communities, courage and hope.
We will do our best to support all of your efforts. Let's walk together and find the true meaning of happiness.
Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology