Relay lessons from disaster to next generation
Along with expediting reconstruction in the Tohoku region, it is vitally important to pass the lessons learned from the March 11, 2011, disaster on to the next generation.
The nation has marked the second anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. In Tokyo, a government-sponsored memorial ceremony was held, with the Emperor and Empress attending. About 1,000 people also took part in the ceremony, including the heads of the nation's legislative, administrative and judicial branches of government and representatives of bereaved family members. They prayed for the repose of the souls of the deceased.
In a speech at the ceremony, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his resolve to "move forward to create a nation with a high degree of resilience to disasters throughout the country, in keeping with the lessons learned through this disaster."
House of Representatives Speaker Bunmei Ibuki said: "It is worrisome that [people's recollections of the disaster] are fading as seen in the reduced number of volunteers. Taking the lessons learned to heart, we're obliged to pass them on to the next generation."
The government and the Diet must use the lessons drawn from the disaster to improve disaster management measures for the entire nation.
The ceremony also was attended by about 150 people from diplomatic circles, including ambassadors from a number of countries.
Action by younger generation
Rin Yamane, a high school student representing Iwate Prefecture, pledged: "The younger generation will aim to better serve as human resources in aiding countries affected by natural disasters using the experience from our own disaster. We'll treat the massive earthquake not as a painful memory but a memory that will lead to the future."
The nation also must expedite reconstruction efforts in a show of respect for the assistance offered by other nations.
Responding to a nationwide opinion survey conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun in late February, 69 percent of respondents said reconstruction of disaster-hit areas did not seem to have made much progress. The figure was almost unchanged from the 72 percent who responded this way in a survey a year ago.
While it was in opposition, the Liberal Democratic Party harshly criticized the Democratic Party of Japan-led government for its slow and inefficient reconstruction efforts.
Now that he is back in power, Abe should make an all-out effort to produce tangible results in response to public discontent, which remains strong.
Delays in Fukushima Prefecture
Delays in reconstruction are particularly obvious in Fukushima Prefecture, where a number of steps have yet to be taken in the wake of the crisis at a nuclear power plant, when compared to Miyagi and Iwate prefectures, which also were hit hard by the earthquake and tsunami.
The Abe administration has set up a general bureau for reconstruction and revitalization in the city of Fukushima to establish a hands-on approach in tackling such issues as decontamination of radioactive materials and rebuilding communities.
Regarding the return of evacuees to areas near the nuclear plant, Abe said at a press conference, "With a target of around summer, I'll come up with a concrete road map on the restoration of roads, water systems, medical and welfare services, as well as for the return of residents."
We approve of Abe's stance when he said, "Action is everything."
As for the three hardest hit prefectures, the government has for the first time presented a timetable for the construction of public housing units for disaster victims to expedite housing reconstruction. This is the right move.
People affected by the disaster are anxious about their uncertain futures. It is crucial for measures to be taken as soon as possible to give them hope.
(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 12, 2013)