On March 11, Japan was hit by one of the most powerful earthquakes in recorded history. We are making all-out efforts to restore livelihoods and recover from the series of tragedies that followed the Great East Japan Earthquake. The disaster left more than 28,000 people, including foreign citizens, dead or missing.
Since March 11, Japan has been strongly supported by our friends around the world. On behalf of the Japanese people, I would like to express my sincerest gratitude for the outpouring of support and solidarity we have received from more than 130 countries, nearly 40 international organizations, numerous nongovernmental organizations and countless individuals from all parts of the world. The Japanese people deeply appreciate the kizuna (“bonds of friendship”) shown to us. Through this hardship, we have come to truly understand that a friend in need is a friend indeed.
Immediately after the earthquake, the United States, our most important friend and ally, provided swift cooperation. President Obama kindly called me to convey his strong commitment that the United States stood ready to provide all-out support to the Japanese people during this time of great difficulty. He reaffirmed that the relationship between our nations is unshakable. So many Japanese citizens, including myself, were enormously encouraged by these remarks. From an early stage in the response efforts, U.S. forces have diligently performed relief activities on multiple fronts as part of Operation Tomodachi (Japanese for “friendship”). The attitude that Americans have demonstrated during this operation has deeply touched the hearts and minds of the Japanese. Support has come from not only the government but also NGOs and countless individuals, in various forms of humanitarian assistance, search-and-rescue missions, charity events and fundraising. We have also received full U.S. support in responding to the accidents at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, from providing equipment and other material assistance such as fire trucks and special protective suits, to dispatching nuclear experts and radiation-control teams.
I take very seriously, and deeply regret, the nuclear accidents we have had at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Bringing the situation under control at the earliest possible date is my top priority. Leading a unified effort by the government, I have mobilized all available resources to combat the risks posed by the plant, based on three principles: First, give the highest priority to the safety and health of all citizens, in particular those residents living close to the plant; second, conduct thorough risk management; and, third, plan for all possible scenarios so that we are fully prepared to respond to any future situations. For example, we continue to make the utmost efforts to address the issue of outflow of radioactive water from the plant into the ocean. In addition, the government has taken every possible measure to ensure the safety of all food and other products, based on strict scientific criteria. We have taken great precautions to ensure the safety of all Japanese food and products that have reached and will continue to reach markets. To ensure domestic and foreign consumer confidence in the safety of Japanese food and products, my administration will redouble its efforts to maintain transparency and keep everyone informed of our progress in the complex and evolving circumstances at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.