Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Remarks at concert hosted by Japan to mark one-year anniversary of the great east Japan earthquake [as prepared for delivery]

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Headquarters, 05 March 2012

[Good evening.]

Minasama ni oaidekite kouei desu.
[It is a pleasure to be meeting you.]

I am so pleased to attend this concert, “Overcoming the Disaster: Gratitude from Japan to the World.”

The title itself speaks volumes about Japan’s sense of appreciation.

I am deeply moved by this gratitude.

Allow me to say a word in Japanese:

Nihon wa kokuren no juuyouna ichi-in desu. Soshite, mata, kokuren wa nihon ni tottemo daijidesu.
[“Japan is an important member of the UN. And the UN is also important for Japan.”]

When the earthquake struck, we immediately reached out to Japan … a country that had reached out so many times for the rest of the world.

On behalf of the United Nations, I sent a personal message of support.

I visited Fukushima as soon as possible.

I spent the night there. I spoke to displaced families. I met with school children. And I found that Japan, the land of the rising sun, had become the land of the rising youth.

I will never forget the faces of the young Japanese I met. In an instant, the earthquake had destroyed their homes. Some of their friends and parents were missing – or confirmed dead. The nuclear accident disturbed their sense of security.

But nothing could defeat their spirit.

The world remembers. We know many people are still not back home. We realize the economic damage is enormous. And we understand that many wounds will never fully heal.

These are the sad truths.

But there are many hopeful signs.

After the Great East Japan Earthquake, the Japanese people stood up – and so did the international community.

The United Nations rushed in emergency help. Countries donated what they could. Even schoolchildren from around the world sent messages of solidarity.

When I met with the people of Fukushima, I expected questions about what the world could do for them. Instead, I heard their simple wish for the world: that no country or community should suffer what they had been through.

We responded with action.

I convened a high-level meeting on nuclear safety and security last September.

And I will continue pressing for global progress on this issue. The upcoming Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul will be an important opportunity to advance this cause.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear friends, here and in Japan:

I will never forget the words of a high school student I met in Fukushima.

Minami Watanabe said, “I’m still not able to be positive all of the time, but I want to take these hardships, these days that I’ve spent in tears, and use them as lessons to help me become a strong person who can overcome any adversity.”

What is true for this one teenager is true for the world. We have to use the experience of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident to become stronger, more resilient and more united.

Minasama, chikara wo awasete gambatte kudasai.
[Everybody, please work together to do your best.]

Tonight’s performers are demonstrating this powerful resolve.

They have come here to show their commitment to victims of natural disasters around the world.

Let us draw inspiration from tonight’s performance to conquer tomorrow’s challenges.

Kokuren mo sekai mo ouen shite imasu.
[“The United Nations and the world are behind Japan in this.”]

Arigato gozaimasu. [“Thank you very much.”]

Thank you.