March 11 this year will mark five years since the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. I would like to extend anew my heartfelt sympathy for the victims and the affected people of the disasters.Over the five years since the disaster, reconstruction has been steadily moving forward in the areas devastated by the earthquake and tsunami, as seen in the shift of housing to higher elevations and the expanded construction of public housing. I would like to express my gratitude for the warm and encouraging support we have received — and continue to receive — from people overseas.

Due to natural conditions and location, Japan is a country that is prone to various natural disasters; not only earthquakes and tsunami, but also volcanoes, typhoons, floods and mudslides. Therefore, the government is diligently working to build a nation that is more prepared for disasters, by resolutely reviewing disaster risk reduction measures and constantly incorporating the latest scientific knowledge on disasters, never forgetting the invaluable lessons learned from the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

Especially with the recent climate change caused by global warming, natural disasters are worsening as can be seen in extremely concentrated downpours. Against such disasters of extreme severity, administrative "public help" is not enough. "Self-help" and the "mutual help" of residents and companies in such areas as evacuation and rescue activities based on mutual cooperation in the region are indispensable.