Remarks by H.E. Mr. Tsuneo Nishida
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
At a Reception in Commemoration of the
Great East Japan Earthquake
8 March 2012, Ambassador’s Residence
Your Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to all of you for attending tonight’s event. As we commemorate the first anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, which struck my country on 11 March last year, our sincere thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and the families who lost their loved ones.
At the same time, your precious support and expressions of solidarity made us newly aware of the importance of “kizuna”, the bonds of friendship among us. I was visited recently by a Mr. Kanno, Mayor of a village in Fukushima prefecture from which all the residents had to be evacuated in the wake of the nuclear disaster. He said: “Our village had an extremely heavy burden to bear, but we have been working hard to recover, keeping in our hearts the good will of the many people who helped us”. Your presence today is further testimony to these strong ties which do not languish with the passage of time.
Assistance has been offered by a number of countries and international organizations in the form of rescue teams, relief funds and other kinds of aid. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon directly addressed his words of encouragement, in Japanese, to affected people during his visit to Japan last summer. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, dispatched a disaster assessment team. So many groups representing civil society, business and volunteers, came to Japan to extend a helping hand. On behalf of the Japanese government, I would like to express once again our profound gratitude for your strong support.
Even in that time of extreme difficulties, the people of Japan stood up and got to work, demonstrating industriousness and resilience with indomitable spirit. With the support of the international community, the affected areas are firmly on their way to recovery. The reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station have already reached a condition equivalent to cold shutdown. There is no major obstacle any more to foreigners who wish to do business, study or sightsee in Japan.
As Prime Minister Noda stated in his address at the Japanese Diet in January, achieving recovery and reconstruction from the disaster is the top priority on the Japanese government’s policy agenda. To that end, it has formulated for this fiscal year four supplementary budgets, amounting in total to more than 20 trillion yen, that is, approximately 250 billion dollars.
At the same time, in the international sphere, the world does not allow us to simply stop and be free from mounting challenges in the areas ranging from natural disasters, peace and stability to climate change, development, and of course human rights. Japan is firmly determined to continue to contribute to the building of a peaceful, resilient and inclusive society around the world, bearing in mind the importance of human security.
Today, 8 March 2012, is International Women’s Day. Our delegation has just introduced a draft resolution on gender equality and the empowerment of women in natural disasters before the Commission on the Status of Women, which is expected to be adopted tomorrow. Furthermore, Japan will engage actively in a thematic debate on disaster risk reduction to be held in the General Assembly in April at the initiative of the President of the General Assembly, for which I am most grateful.
Through these initiatives, Japan will fulfill more actively than ever the role it is called upon to perform in the world, sharing the experiences and lessons learned from the disaster. We believe that is the only way for us survivors to show respect for and pay tribute to those who have lost their precious lives.
Today, we are privileged to have with us His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations. I would like now to ask the Secretary-General to give us a few words.