Four years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011. This unprecedented disaster caused immeasurable damage claiming many precious lives and destroying countless properties. I would like to express my condolences. Since the aftermath of the earthquake, a great number of Canadians, Japanese Canadians, and Japanese residents here have shown support for the people in the affected areas. Although 4 years have elapsed, a portion of that support still continues.
Two days after the earthquake, I visited the cities of Ofunato and Kamaishi in Iwate Prefecture, together with the British and US rescue teams that had rushed to Japan in order to search for survivors. Their search efforts were indeed faced with enormous difficulties because those two cities sustained the most devastating damage. Despite such adverse conditions, the rescue teams devoted themselves to that endeavour for one week. Their search activities were taken over by Japanese teams of fire fighters and the troops from the Self-Defense Forces when they arrived at the sites.
Through these activities, I saw in-person the damages and the realities of the disaster-ravaged areas. My sincere wish is that the lives of those affected have been improving, even little by little, through the restoration and reconstruction projects.
Through the assistance from Canada, public facilities including a library and a market were constructed in Natori City using Canadian wood products. Also, the City of Richmond donated funds for scholarships in Onagawa Town. In April, a delegation including some city staff from Richmond is scheduled to visit Onagawa again. I would like to extend my appreciation to the people of Canada for their long-term support as demonstrated in these two cases.
I am convinced that we need to be prepared for future disasters through the lessons learned from the Great East Japan Earthquake, and through talking about the disaster to keep the memories of it fresh and not let them fade. At the same time, I believe that Japan needs to be more proactive in pursuing international cooperation in disaster prevention.
Consul General of Japan in Vancouver
Consul General Okada’s Web Message
March 18, 2015