With the third anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake upon us, I would like to offer my most sincere prayers for the peaceful repose of the victims of the earthquake and tsunami. The catastrophe instantly took away from so many people their loved ones and their homes. Still so many are forced to live as evacuees. We must continue to work for the full recovery of the affected areas.

In addition to this catastrophe, recent years have seen increasing incidence of serious destruction from extreme weather events. In 2013 alone, Typhoon Haiyan caused severe damage in the Philippines and Vietnam, and heavy rain brought flooding in Central Europe and India. There have been unprecedented cold spells and heavy snowfalls this year in many parts of the world.

Today at least 110 countries around the world consider the effects of climate change such as extreme weather to be a "serious national security issue." This represents an important change as, in the past, many governments viewed climate change as just another environmental issue and accorded it a lower priority compared to economic growth.