Skip to main content

Home >  News >  Speeches and Statements by the Prime Minister >  March 2019 >  Address by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Memorial Ceremony Marking the Eighth Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake

Speeches and Statements by the Prime Minister

Address by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Memorial Ceremony Marking the Eighth Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake

March 11, 2019

 [Provisional Translation]
In the gracious presence of Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Akishino, it is with the deepest respect that I, representing the Government of Japan, express my condolences on the occasion of the Memorial Ceremony Marking the Eighth Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Eight years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake, which caused unprecedented damage centered on northeast Japan and claimed many precious lives.
When I think of the despair of those who lost beloved members of their families and friends in the disaster, I am overwhelmed even now with deep sorrow. It is with my deepest sympathy that I reiterate my sincerest condolences. I would also like to extend my heartfelt sympathies to all those who have been affected by the disaster.
With the passage of eight years since the disaster, I can see that reconstruction of the affected regions is making visible progress. In areas that were affected by the earthquake and tsunami, the reconstruction is advancing towards its final stage. The restoration of infrastructure required for everyday life is nearly complete, while the rebuilding of homes is also expected to be almost completed by the end of this fiscal year.
In areas of Fukushima that were significantly affected by the accident at the nuclear power plant, evacuation orders are being lifted in almost all areas, except from the difficult-to-return-to zone. Progress is also being made in the re-establishment of the living environment as we move towards full-scale reconstruction. At the same time, reconstruction and revitalization work has begun in some of the difficult-to-return-to zone and activities that will enable us to lift more evacuation orders are gathering pace.
Nevertheless, even today, 14,000 people still have to live in temporary housing facilities, and many people have endured uncomfortable lives for a long period of time.
Aware of the circumstances of each and every one of the people affected by the disaster, the government will continue to undertake reconstruction work with a commitment to providing seamless support through the various stages of livelihood rehabilitation and further accelerate the reconstruction work. This support includes tasks such as maintaining both the psychological and physical well-being of the people, providing support for the reconstruction of homes and rehabilitating livelihoods, as well as securing an educational environment in which children can both learn and have peace of mind. In regions affected by the nuclear disaster, we will continue to develop a living environment that will permit people to return to their communities and to support the revitalization of local industries and livelihoods.
At the same time, we must never let the valuable lessons that we have learned from the enormous damage caused by the disaster to fade away. We will ceaselessly review disaster-prevention and mitigation measures that will save the lives of Japanese people in the future. Once again, I would like to make a firm pledge that from now onwards we will continue to exert our efforts in every field, both in the hard and soft aspects, to build a strong and resilient nation that is resistant to disasters during the next intensive three-year period.
Since the earthquake, reconstruction has made progress thanks to the tremendous efforts of the local people and countless related parties. Much warm support and assistance poured in from countries and regions around the world. Representatives of many of those places are present here today and I would like once again to express our sincere gratitude as well as our respect.
It is our responsibility to share with other countries and regions the lessons of the Great East Japan Earthquake, as well as disaster prevention knowledge and technology that can all be instrumental in minimizing future disasters. We will further strengthen our international contributions in the field of disaster prevention.
In the past, our nation suffered countless disasters that could be described as national crises. Each time, we overcame them with determination and hope. I vow once again that we will follow hand-in-hand in the footsteps of our forefathers and continue to move forward.
In concluding, I would like to offer my heartfelt prayers for the eternal repose of the souls of those who lost their lives and I pray for the peace and tranquility of their bereaved family members.
Shinzo Abe
Prime Minister of Japan
March 11, 2019

Page Top