One year has now passed since the great earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, which brought about a disaster of an unprecedented scale. In the afternoon of March 11, a memorial ceremony to commemorate the first anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake was held by the government at a location in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area. The ceremony took place in the presence of Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress, and was attended by DPJ President Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, as well as representatives of the bereaved families. A minute’s silence was observed at 2:46 pm, the time that the earthquake occurred, and prayers were offered for the victims of the disaster.
Following the minute’s silence, Prime Minister Noda made an address, in which he vowed to carry out three pledges to ensure that the departed souls are duly respected and their wishes continue to be passed down for posterity, these being, (1) to accomplish reconstruction in the disaster-affected areas without delay, (2) to pass on to future generations the lessons of the disaster, and (3) to never forget the spirit of “mutual assistance” and “appreciation” that links us all. He stressed the importance of providing continued support to the disaster-affected regions, and also the need for Japan to make an active contribution to the international community in order to repay the warm and kind assistance shown by other countries. Noda also stated that today’s Japanese should learn from their ancestors, who stood up with brave resolution in times of crisis, and stressed, “While offering our support for the daily struggles of those people in the disaster-affected regions, we will join hands as we seek to fulfill our historic mission of ‘the rebirth of Japan through reconstruction’”
Following an address from His Majesty the Emperor, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President of the House of Councillors and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court each made speeches of condolence, and these were followed by words from representatives of bereaved from each of the three prefectures most affected by the disaster.
Diet members, local assembly members, representatives of private organizations and Ambassadors stationed in Tokyo also took part in the memorial ceremony.
A full English translation of Noda’s address is available on the Prime Minister’s Office website at: http://www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/noda/statement/201203/11sikiji_e.html