Speech on the occasion of the 6th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake (15 March)


Greeting by Ambassador Mari Miyoshi at a Tohoku sake networking event on the occasion of the 6th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for coming to this Tohoku Sake networking event.    On the 11th of March six years ago, in 2011, Japan was struck by an unprecedented earthquake and tsunami.    Over 15,000 lives were lost and around 2,500 people are still missing.    I would like to take this opportunity to express my condolences to the victims of this disaster.    I also would like to express my gratitude to the people of Ireland for their support and warm messages of sympathy.     I’ve heard from my predecessor, Ambassador Atsumi, that he was very much impressed by the messages of encouragement, poems, and senbazuru – sets of a thousand paper cranes – of schoolchildren from all around Ireland.
As I myself was stationed in Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture  from 2012, one year after the earthquake, to 2014 as head of the Immigration Bureau for the Tohoku region, I observed the situation there closely.     Since the earthquake and tsunami, the region, especially the most affected three prefectures – Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, has made gradual, but steady progress on the road to recovery.    In March 2015, the third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction was held in Sendai City.    From Ireland, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Mr. Howlin, participated in the conference.     Last year, Sendai City hosted the G7 Finance Ministers Meeting.    As a role model city for disaster mitigation and as a resilient and welcoming city, Sendai is now obliged to pass on the lessons learned to future generations, and children will surely be the bridge for the city with international people visiting Tohoku.
With regard to Ireland, the Irish Embassy in Tokyo has assisted the activities of “Support our Kids” for six years already and this organisation has dispatched annually around 100 children to English speaking countries, including Ireland. Last year, 9 students were warmly received by Minister Flanagan at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and by the Lord Mayor of Dublin City.   Please take a look at footage of their visits, as well as a film on Sendai that will be shown on the screen later.
I suppose that many of you are concerned with the Fukushima nuclear power plant, especially its effects on radiation and food safety.    These effects have been mitigated.   Radiation levels in Fukushima Prefecture are currently the same as those of big cities such as London, Paris and New York.   The situation regarding food safety is also stable and, in recent samples, there has not been a single case which has exceeded the standard limits in, for example, livestock, fruit, tea or drinking water.   Of the 340,000 samples tested, only 0.09% exceeded the limits and they were namely the meat of game and wild mushrooms.
Tonight, I would like you to have accurate information about the current situation in Tohoku and enjoy Japanese sake from the region.  If you like it, please return to Japan and visit Tohoku to see the reconstruction and recovery situation. People in Tohoku will have renewed appreciation of the importance of our “kizuna” or bonds of friendship with Irish people if you can do so.
Thank you very much and please enjoy this evening.