NEW DELHI: 11th March, 2012
Address by H.E. Mr. Akitaka Saiki, Ambassador of Japan to India, on the memorial event to remember the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake, 11 March, 2011

His Excellency Mr. Shashidhar Reddy, Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, and Dear Friends,

1. Exactly one year ago today, the devastating Earthquake and Tsunami hit Tohoku, the north eastern part of Japan. The magnitude of the Earthquake was 9.0 – unprecedented throughout the history of Japan, and the 4th largest in world history. Although Japan is one of the countries which are most often hit by earthquakes in the world, therefore the best-prepared, this time we faced another catastrophic challenge – tsunami. The tsunami waves reached as high as almost 15 meters, relentlessly swallowed and destroyed everything. Houses, cars, buses, ships, trees, and the lives of the people were lost.

2. 15,854 lives have been lost, 3,155 are still missing, 26,992 have been injured, 71,124 were forced to evacuate, and almost 130,000 buildings have been completely destroyed.

3. Last week, a group of Japanese Ambassadors stationed in the Asian countries including myself had an opportunity to visit Rikuzentakata city, one of the most devastated areas by the tsunami. There were still massive scars left from the disaster, which reminded me that we still have a long way to recover fully.

4. Painful memories and deep sorrow still remain within people in Japan.

5. I am deeply grateful to each and every one of you for joining me in expressing sincerest condolences for the victims on this special day.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

6. If I may raise one thing which was so fortunate in such an ordeal, it is that Japan was not alone. As many as 163 countries offered kind assistance to Japan. India was, of course, one of them. At the moment of extreme difficulties, India was, and is, with us.

7. To the Government and the people of India, we, the Government and the people of Japan, would once again like to express our heartfelt gratitude for your sincere, kind, and warm expressions of sympathy and support at the time of such unprecedented difficulties. The Government of India sent us relief materials and cash donations from the people of India for the disaster-affected people in Japan. We are particularly thankful to the 46 members of the NDRF, National Disaster Response Force, who bravely and tirelessly assisted relief efforts in the tsunami-ravaged regions under severe conditions.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

8. It is my great pleasure to have the attendance of Commandant Alok Avasthy, the NDRF, to this ceremony. Thank you for your great job, Commandant Avasthy. We will never forget these gestures of true friendship demonstrated by the Government and the people of India. Our “Kizuna” – bonds of friendship – became even stronger.

9. One year after the disaster, Japan has been making a steady recovery and reconstruction.

10. Let me say three things:

11. First of all, we finally brought Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station to cold shutdown last December. After achieving stable conditions, it has progressed to the decommissioning stage. Japan will continue to contribute to the world by providing information with transparency regarding the status of the ongoing investigation on the causes of the accident, as well as its efforts to enhance nuclear safety.

12. Secondly, thanks to your help and people’s hard efforts, Japan’s economic outlook is getting better. Huge reconstruction demand and unexpectedly speedy and full recovery of supply chain are helping Japanese economy to come back resiliently. The level of industrial production has already exceeded the one before the earthquake. Let me reiterate the fact that even during such a struggle, we did not reduce our ODA, Official Development Assistance, to India, which is one of the key components of our Global Strategic Partnership.

13. Last but not least, Japan is safe. Please be reassured and visit Japan and the Tohoku region, in particular, to see how things are going with your own eyes. We welcome all of you at any time of the year.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

14. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between Japan and India. A lot of commemorative events have been and will be held both in Japan and India this year. We really look forward to your active participation in these historic events. The theme of this 60th anniversary is “Resurgent Japan and Vibrant India: New Discoveries and New Exchanges.”

15. Today we renew our commitment to expand the strategic and global partnership between the two countries hand in hand, looking forward to a new chapter of our friendship and cooperation. With “Vibrant India,” we are determined to achieve the “Resurgence” of Japan.

16. Thank you very much, and Dhanyavaad!