10 March 2016

Dear Sir/Madam,

Five years have passed since the Great East Japan earthquake hit the Tohoku region on March 11th, 2011. I, as the Ambassador of Japan to India, take this opportunity to express my deep condolences for the victims and their bereaved families. I would also like to once again express our heartfelt gratitude to the people of India and all over the world, who very kindly extended their assistance and warm encouragement in our hour of need.

We received a series of precious assistance from the Government of India and a wide range of Indian people. These came in the shape of a rescue operation, relief supplies, memorial services, as well as generous donations. It is truly inestimable how much encouragement these heartfelt expressions of kindness from India brought to the disaster-afflicted Japanese. In some places in the affected area, these warm gestures led to an opportunity to begin a friendship program with India. On behalf of the people of Japan, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the people of India.

The NDRF(National Disaster Response Force), which was created in 2005 after the disaster of Sumatra earthquake and Indian Ocean tsunami, was dispatched to Japan as its very first overseas mission. The 46-member team went into Onagawa town, Miyagi Prefecture, for conducting search and rescue operations for missing persons. I heard that many of affected people there expressed their sincere praise and tributes for the NDRF staff, who dedicatedly and promptly responded to requests from those in need.

All the relief supplies sent by the Government of India, which included 26, 740 pieces of blankets, about 10 tons of drinking water and about 10 tons of biscuits, were gratefully accepted by the affected people, who had to spend many days without a home, under severe freezing weather conditions.

On March 13, 2011, a memorial meeting of prayer for the victims was organized in front of our Embassy in New Delhi by groups of people including Members of Parliament, intellectuals, religious leaders, as well as people from all walks of life. They expressed condolences for the victims and demonstrated their solidarity towards Japan with a message that Japan shall stand up again. We received many donations from all over India and from all levels of Indian society. At the temporary shelter in Onagawa-town, an Indian youth started the initiative to serve Indian curry to the displaced people. This resulted in the creation of the “Onagawa Curry Project”, which became the symbol of revitalization of the town and of profound bonds among the people.

During the last five years, all the people in the affected region have dedicated themselves, working hand in hand, for the recovery and reconstruction of Tohoku despite the harsh conditions. The Government of Japan has executed the recovery and reconstruction measures in the past five years as an “Intensive Reconstruction Period”. There has been much visible progress in infrastructure improvement, reconstruction of school and hospital facilities and removal and disposal of disaster waste. At the peak the number of evacuees amounted to 470,000; however this has now been reduced to 174,000.

In Fukushima Prefecture, there has been step by step, steady progress of reconstruction work. The situation at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station has steadily progressed on decommissioning and contaminated water management.

With regard to food safety in the affected region, Japan is executing a thorough inspection of radioactive substances, based on the strictest standard in the world according to scientific basis. Only foods that pass these extremely strict examinations are allowed to be exported. We are making continuous efforts to release accurate data of these examination results and hope that everyone may enjoy delicious foodstuff from Japan.

We recognize the importance of preparedness for disaster risk reduction as a vital lesson learnt from the Great East Japan earthquake. We sincerely hope that people of all countries have been able to deepen their knowledge about disaster risk reduction through discussions such as the third UN World Conference of Disaster Risk Reduction held at Miyagi Prefecture. We would like to further strengthen the cooperation between Japan and India in this arena as well.

The Tohoku region is blessed with a wide range of tourist attractions, including natural beauty treasures, pure water, tasty Japanese Sake and cuisine, hot springs, and world heritage sites. In 2019, the Rugby Football World Cup will be held in Japan, and the tsunami-affected town of Kamaishi is one of the venues where matches in the tournament will be played. In 2020, Japan will host the Olympic and Paralympics games. We welcome people from all over the world to come to Japan. Especially, the Government of Japan has taken a series of measures to ease the Visa issuance process for Indian nationals. The announcement made in February this year is attached to this letter.

We sincerely look forward to your visit to Japan. We hope you may see how we are moving forward for the reconstruction of Tohoku. Thank you again. Tohoku is coming back. And Japan is welcoming you.

Yours Sincerely,

Kenji Hiramatsu
Ambassador of Japan to India