Abe says revitalization ‘gathering pace’ in speech marking disaster anniversary

The following is the full text of a speech given by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a memorial ceremony at the National Theater in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.


In the gracious presence of Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress, 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 fifth anniversary of the Great East Japan of Earthquake.

Already, five years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake, which claimed many precious lives and completely changed the lives of so many more people.

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.

Many people are still leading uncomfortable lives in the affected areas. There are many who cannot return to their beloved homes because of the accident at the nuclear power plant. Every time I visit the affected areas, I fully sense that “the disaster is continuing.” And yet, step by step, the reconstruction is making steady progress. Revitalization of the livelihoods of the residents is similarly gathering pace and becoming fully fledged alongside the construction of new housing.

By being aware of the circumstances of each and every one of the affected individuals, we commit ourselves to such tasks as providing care for their minds and bodies, forming new local communities and supporting industrial development of the affected areas, so that reconstruction leads to the attractive revitalization of the region.

Consequently, with the determination to never allow the valuable lessons learned from the disaster to erode, we will ceaselessly review disaster-prevention measures by constantly integrating the latest wisdom and knowledge. Once again, I would like to make a firm pledge here that the government will exert its unified efforts to build a strong and resilient nation that is resistant to disasters.

We have reached today supported by the tremendous efforts of local people and numerous related parties. Warm support and assistance have poured in from every corner of Japan, and also from countries and regions around the world, many of whose representatives are present here today. I would like to once again to express our sincere gratitude as well as our respect.

Our nation will continue to convey to the world the lessons of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the state of the reconstruction of the affected areas, while also further strengthening our international contributions in the field of disaster prevention so that our nation’s knowledge and technologies will become instrumental in future disasters.

In the past, our nation suffered countless disasters that could be described as national crises, but overcame each time 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.