Prime Minister NODA's BLOG

Soon, a year will have passed since that day of March 11.

While the experience of each individual may differ greatly, I believe that each citizen had an unprecedentedly “intense” time over the past year.  How did each of us spend our time leading up to that day, how did we spend the time afterwards, and how are we living now?  I imagine that every one of us has various thoughts coming and going in our minds.

On this occasion, I very much hope to have as many people as possible first of all turn their thoughts to the people who lost beloved family members and friends and to those who have become forced into a lifestyle fraught with inconveniences.

The government will hold a memorial ceremony at the National Theatre.  It will be connected via live feed with memorial ceremonies taking place in each of the disaster-affected prefectures, and at 2:46 PM on the anniversary we will offer up a minute of silence in mourning for the victims and condolence for their families.  I hope that everyone offers up a moment of silence in concert with this, wherever he or she may be.

From today, thirty photographs and messages carefully selected from the Watakushi no Fukkou Dayori (“My Reconstruction News”) collection are on display in the lobby of the Prime Minister’s Office.

Watakushi no Fukkou Dayori is a project inaugurated last September on the Prime Minister’s Office web page (Japanese version).  It invites submissions of photographs and messages that capture daily happenings in the disaster areas as they work towards reconstruction, contributed by people living in those areas or by volunteers.  More than 500 submissions have been received thus far.  Even now, new submissions are arriving on a daily basis, and the posted contents continue to be updated.

Even a single photograph has the power to speak volumes.  Seeing photographs of an infant receiving a baby massage in the temporary housing facilities or of children delightedly eating huge mouthfuls of a 6-meter Christmas cake brings a feeling of relief.  The smiling faces of the children provide a sense of hope for the reconstruction of the disaster area.

Children are the hope of society and indeed the force that will forge the future.  This is also the philosophy that permeates the “New System for Children and Child-rearing” compiled last week.

Of course, it may be that these have picked out only the brighter side of the disaster areas, and it is not my intention to claim that “reconstruction is proceeding smoothly” based on these alone.  At the same time, I would be grateful if, by glimpsing new scenes of people who have set out along the path to reconstruction, even a few more people came to share the wish to continue to be a support in this process.

During this week there are a number of events being organized besides those held by the national government and local authorities.  One of those is the “HUMANBAND on Route 3.11” project.  This project aims to etch into people’s minds remembrance and determination towards reconstruction by having people link hands in the disaster areas at dawn on March 11 for 33 seconds (3 times 11 being 33).  I consider participation in such events as these to be one way for individuals to express their feelings.  This blog provides a link to the web page of the organizer of this event, so please take a look at it (Japanese only).

I would like to have as many people as possible regard March 11 as it comes around again as a day on which they renew their thoughts of remembrance and also their resolve towards reconstruction, with each person doing so in his or her own way wherever he or she may be.  I cannot help but wish for that.

Of course it is I myself who should give the highest priority to such thoughts.  I must accelerate recovery and reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake, which are the greatest priorities for the Noda Cabinet.  In order to do this, it is imperative to have the cooperation of not merely the disaster-stricken areas but also those outside of the disaster zone.

At last week’s Party Leaders’ Debate, I felt that our discussions have come to mesh a great deal concerning each of the matters of reconstruction of the disaster areas, the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems, and “reforms that put legislators themselves on the line.”  I believe that if one continues to appeal with simple honesty regarding issues that must be tackled whoever holds the reins of government, understanding will certainly be achieved.

It will soon be a full year since the great earthquake.  I will continue to be most vigorously engaged in the reconstruction of the disaster areas and other matters in national affairs.

Yoshihiko Noda
Prime Minister of Japan
March 5, 2012

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