• by Taro Kono
  • Minister Of State For Disaster Management


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.

Japan’s disaster countermeasures have evolved in response to those major disasters such as the 1959 Isewan Typhoon, the 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake and the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. I, however, believe we have to take new countermeasures, which go much beyond earlier ones, to be better prepared for intensifying disasters in the future. Therefore, I established a forum for discussion titled “Disaster Countermeasures 4.0 — Future Design Project” involving experts from various areas. We are currently examining how individuals should look at disaster risk and how society as a whole should prepare for disasters. We are planning to make proposals in the middle of May and would like to make our preparations for future disasters more reliable.

Furthermore, Japan, which throughout its history has experienced many natural disasters, has accumulated advanced technology and know-how in dealing with them. Against such a backdrop, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the “Sendai Cooperation Initiative for Disaster Risk Reduction,” which includes training 40,000 people and disaster risk reduction cooperation totaling $4 billion over four years, at the Third U.N. World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai last March. We would like to contribute further to global disaster risk reduction by providing and sharing Japan’s knowledge and technology as an advanced nation in the field of disaster risk reduction.

In 2020, Tokyo is set to host Olympic and Paralympic Games. Although there is a danger posed should the Tokyo Inland Earthquake or the Nankai Trough earthquake occur, we will more forward in building a nation that is as prepared as possible for natural disasters. We will achieve this by working with a solid union of government, corporations and residents, ensuring that people interested in visiting Japan will feel safe in doing so.

Download the PDF of this 5-year memorial of Great East Japan Earthquake

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.