Address by Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio to the 2023 Memorial Ceremony for the Great East Japan Earthquake
March 11, 2023
I offer with great humility my commemorative address on behalf of the Government at the 2023 Memorial Ceremony for the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Twelve years have now passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake struck.
Here in Fukushima, among other places, many irreplaceable lives were lost, and some people remain unaccounted for even today. The colossal earthquake and tsunamis, and also the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station of Tokyo Electric Power Company, deprived many Fukushima Prefecture residents of their day-to-day lives.
My heart aches in empathy and overflows with sorrow and condolences for those who have lost beloved family members, relatives, and friends. Today I offer my deepest and sincerest commiserations once again.
In addition, because of the nuclear accident, many people are forced to live their lives as evacuees even now. I express once more my most profound sympathies to all those affected by the catastrophe, including those unable to return to their hometowns.
In the 12 years since the earthquake wreaked its devastation, reconstruction has progressed steadily in the earthquake- and tsunami-stricken areas.
Even in the areas of Fukushima affected by the nuclear disaster, in the areas where evacuation orders have been lifted, progress has been made in improving the living environment and revitalizing and bolstering industries and regenerating means of livelihood. In the difficult-to-return-to zones as well, evacuation orders have been lifted, one and then another, for the Specified Reconstruction and Revitalization Bases in the village of Katsurao and the towns of Okuma and Futaba, and for the remaining towns of Tomioka and Namie, and the village of Iitate, we aim to lift evacuation orders this spring. In this way, movement towards the reconstruction and revitalization of Fukushima is underway in earnest.
It should go without saying that this is the result of the tireless efforts and support of the local residents and also all those affiliated with the agencies and organizations involved, including Fukushima Prefecture and its municipalities.
Medium- to long-term support will be critical for reconstruction from the nuclear disaster. The Government will continue to stand at the fore, pressing ahead with the safe and steady decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station of Tokyo Electric Power Company, on which reconstruction is premised, and with assistance to improve the living environment and restore and bolster industries and livelihoods to accelerate the return of residents. On April 1, we will found the Fukushima Institute for Research, Education and Innovation (F-REI), which will be a core base for creative reconstruction. Furthermore, with regard to areas outside the Specified Reconstruction and Revitalization Bases, we will move forward in our efforts towards lifting evacuation orders and aim to pass legislation in the current Diet session to that end, so that those ardently hoping to return to their hometowns to live are able to do so. We will continue to strive to the best of our ability to achieve the full-scale reconstruction and revitalization of Fukushima and the reconstruction of the Tohoku region.
We have learned invaluable lessons at the grave costs imposed by the earthquake and its consequent disasters. It is our responsibility to pass those lessons on to future generations, never allowing them to fade, and move forward in building a country that is resilient against disasters.
Our nation has experienced several disasters that could be regarded as national crises. Nonetheless, we have overcome every crisis with courage and hope.
The present generation is now determined to follow the path of our ancestors. 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 that the souls of all those who passed away repose in eternal peace, and that all the bereaved families be embraced with peace and tranquillity.
March 11, 2023