08 August 2011

Opening remarks at press encounter at Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture (Japan)

Ban Ki-moon

Souma-shi no minasama, fukushima no minasama, watakushi wa kokuren jimusouchou no pan gimun desu. Konotabi no higashi nihon daishinnsai dewa minasama ookina eikyou wo ukemashita. Shikashi, nihon wa kanarazu tachiagaru to shinjite imasu.

[People of Soma City, people of Fukushima, you were severely affected by the huge disaster but I firmly believe that your great country will recover from it.]

I just paid my respects in memory of the many people who lost their lives.

This is a terrible tragedy: many lives lost, many houses and properties have been devastated. But as the sea, as we see, we endure.

While we have sun here, my heart is breaking. [This is] heart-breaking. I cannot express how much I am sad, how sad I am, to have seen the destruction and loss of lives.

At the same time, I am encouraged by what I have seen; such national will, unbreaking spirit, and determination and resilience of the Japanese people and Government. You are united. You are overcoming this tragedy. Japan is one of the best-prepared countries in the world for this kind of tragedy [in terms of] national disaster risk reduction.

I met [evacuees] this morning in the Azuma Sogo Sports Park and Evacuation Center, and I met also many young students in Fukushima Minami High School, and I was encouraged by what they said. They have shown such great strength. I am sure that with this strength and support of the United Nations and the international community, you will be able to overcome this tragedy.

This is temporary, but the extent and magnitude of this tragedy is unspeakable, indescribable.

I wish you all the best. You have a good Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Kan Naoto and you have a good governor, Yuhei Sato, and Mayor of Soma, Hidekiyo Tachiya, and you have all the support from the international community, all the caring people from the United Nations. I will bring this message to the United Nations and we will discuss how we can help the Japanese people overcome this.

We have to learn how we can strengthen nuclear safety, how we can make this world safer and better for all the people around the world.

Arigatogozaimasu. [“Thank you very much.”]