After Great East Japan Earthquake, Japanese People Stood Up — So Did International Community, Secretary-General Says One Year Later, Commending Resilient Response

6 March 2012
SG/SM/14143

After Great East Japan Earthquake, Japanese People Stood Up — So Did International Community, Secretary-General Says One Year Later, Commending Resilient Response

6 March 2012
Secretary-General
SG/SM/14143
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

After Great East Japan Earthquake, Japanese People Stood Up — So Did International

Community, Secretary-General Says One Year Later, Commending Resilient Response

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at a concert hosted by Japan to mark the one-year anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, in New York, 5 March:

こんばんわ。 Konbanwa. [Good evening.]  皆様にお会いできて光栄です。 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:  日本は国連の重要な一員です。そして、また、国連は日本にとっても大事です。 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 schoolchildren.  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.

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.

東北の皆様、力を合わせてがんばってください。  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.  国連も世界も日本を応援しています。  Kokuren mo sekai mo ouen shite imasu.  [“The United Nations and the world are behind Japan in this.”]  ありがとうございます。  Arigato gozaimasu. [Thank you very much.]  Thank you.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.