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Message from Prime Minister Naoto Kan and the Minister of MEXT To all Elementary School Students

To all Students Entering the New School Year

Everyone, we'd like to congratulate you all on your entering school or moving up to the next grade. We hope you all will make a lot of new friends from this April.

You were supposed to welcome spring, filled with hope. This spring, however, turned out to be a very painful one for us all. As all of you know, the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Japan on March 11th. We know there are those who have lost dearest family members, or those who are attending school from temporary shelters.
We have heard many wonderful stories about students taking the initiative in helping out the elderly and the disabled through cleaning up and preparing food. Thank you very much.
You may find it difficult to go on without feeling sorrow or anxiety, but please remember that you are not alone. By working together with your peers and teachers, let's restore our schools as early as we can so that every student can learn and play in a peaceful environment. We will do whatever we can to make it happen.

We'd like to ask a favor of you who live in the areas which were not hit by this disaster. Please warmly accept your new friends who have come to study at your schools. Even if you don't have such students around, please support the children who are currently living under very difficult circumstances, and pray for those who passed away and, unfortunately, couldn't make it to school this April.
We have also heard many stories about little children making efforts to save energy, and saving their allowances to make donations. These stories make us feel very proud of you. We are sure such compassion will enable Japan to rise up again to be a better country.

Spring is approaching the Tohoku region which was one of the hardest hit areas. Have you already learned the phrase, the "cherry blossom front" from your teachers? This is a line that connects the very first day of the cherry blossoms in every region across Japan.
Since our country is long and narrow from north to south, the first official announcement of their blossoming is usually made from Okinawa at the beginning of January. The front takes around 6 months until the end of May to finally reach the northern part of Hokkaido. It represents a beautiful "relay of life" that nature creates.
Nature poses us with severe hardships as we have witnessed in this earthquake and tsunami, while at the same time she has the power to embrace us gently just like the cherry blossom front.
We ask all of you to pass the baton of kindness to your peers in the areas stricken by the disaster. This can be done through simple acts of kindness such as giving up your seat to the elderly on a train, or helping out the disabled in need. We believe such acts of kindness will gradually reach those in the stricken areas as the cherry blossom front proceeds.
Acts of kindness have also been sent to us from all across the world. A lot of rescuers have come to help us, and we have also received relief goods as well. I hope all of you will study hard, so that you, in turn, will be able to offer these acts of kindness to the suffering people in the world.
Please do not forget about the firefighters, officials with the Japan Self-Defense Forces and the electric company workers endangering their lives to contain the accident at the nuclear power plant. Do not forget about the policemen, doctors, nurses devoting themselves to the rescue effort at various disaster sites. Above all, do not forget about your teachers who risked their lives to protect you. We hope that you will become a person who is always ready to help others by becoming physically strong, developing your decision-making abilities and building up a gentle heart.

We, together with teachers across the country, will do whatever we can to ensure that you can enjoy attending your school once again. Japan's future rests on your shoulders. We trust your cheerful bright faces will bring back energy to our country.


Naoto Kan
Prime Minister

Yoshiaki Takaki
Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology