Japan: Remembering and rebuilding

©REUTERS/Kyodo Kyodo

On 11 March one year ago, an earthquake of magnitude 9.0 struck eastern Japan. The earthquake was followed by a huge tsunami and a nuclear accident. All these incidents combined resulted in an unprecedented disaster leaving more than 19,000 people dead or missing and a very large material damage. 

Recovery from the combined devastation of this magnitude is not an easy task, and we are still struggling. But, the people of Japan have shown great solidarity and unity in a time of difficulty. Even those who most suffered remained civil and orderly. People from other regions rushed to the affected areas to provide help.

We have also been reassured by the quick and warm response from the international community that showed its solidarity with Japan. Support came from all over the world. I myself received a number of heartfelt messages from fellow ambassadors and from the secretary-general, as well as from people I met on Parisian streets. Members of the OECD secretariat donated a large sum of money to the affected people in Japan. I will not forget them.

Now, I would like to share with you some aspects of Japan’s recovery and the current situation. First, the affected areas are firmly on their way to recovery. Most parts of Japan have returned to normal. There are no major obstacles hindering tourists, foreign students and business people from visiting, studying and working in Japan.

Second, on the nuclear accident, last December, the government of Japan announced that reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station were brought to a condition equivalent to a “cold shutdown.” The accident in the station has thus been settled. There remain, however, many challenges, such as decontamination, health management, compensation and decommission of the reactors. They are being treated with the utmost importance and urgency.

Third, on the energy policy, following the nuclear accident, Japan is reviewing its energy policies, including nuclear, in a comprehensive manner.

My government intends to formulate a new energy strategy by this summer. Japan faces energy constraints, but this challenge can be an opportunity to be innovative.

From remarks delivered by the ambassador at a special Great East Japan Earthquake Memorial Event, OECD Conference Centre, 14 March 2012

©OECD Observer No 290-291, Q1-Q2 2012

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