Speech by Consul General Eiichi Kawahara
Remarks on the Occasion of the First Anniversary of March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake & Tsunami
March 8th, 2012
Thank you very much for joining us today in this commemoration of the first anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
I wish to express my sincere appreciation to you all for conveying with your presence, once again, your friendship and solidarity to Japan.
My special thanks to the Honorable Tomas Regalado, Mayor of the City of Miami, who honors us with his company and kind words. The City of Miami has a dynamic and close sister city relation with the City of Kagoshima in Japan. Even though Kagoshima was not affected by the earthquake and tsunami, the Mayor’s International Council, through the Miami-Kagoshima Committee, organized a successful fundraiser activity for the victims of March 11.
Honoring also with the gracious presence is Hon. Jim Cason, Mayor of Coral Gables, a good friend of our Consulate.
It would be impossible for us to acknowledge here today, one by one, each organization or individual who initiated a fundraiser, or volunteered their time and energies to the cause, or reached into their pockets, or even called our Consulate to convey their solidarity.
Countless numbers of Floridians and Japanese throughout the State, young people in grade schools, universities and people with different cultural associations came forward. They organized concerts, fairs, dinners for Japan.
Dr. Eduardo Alfonso and Dr. Richard Lee of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute sent the “Vision Van” to Japan to treat patients in the affected areas. I am sure you had a chance to see “Vision Van” parked in front of our house.
We had many corporations, like Noven and J.M. Families Enterprises that collected donations from their associates, and made themselves substantial donations to the Red Cross for the relief efforts.
In Tohoku Japan, the massive assistance and support came immediately after March 11 from the U.S. Marines and the Navy, which conducted the joint search and rescue operation “TOMODACHI”- that means friendship in Japanese. Japanese people will never forget it.
Through the prompt assistance provided by countries around the world, both the infrastructure and the economy of the affected areas are undergoing rapid recovery. Many Japanese companies’ operations got back to normal at an astonishing speed, with supply chains having more than fully recovered last year.
There is still a lot to rebuild society in the devastated region. We are not alone in this effort. We are open for business, we are open for tourism. We would like to share the reconstruction business opportunity with our friends worldwide.
Japan intends to develop a future oriented community and society to become “global models” by transitioning to a green economy that achieves economic growth in a compatible way with the environment. It takes time, but we shall overcome the challenges. In so doing, we aspire for Japan to act as a beacon for a brighter world for everyone.
The earthquake and tsunami affected only the far northeast part of Japan. The rest of Japan was briefly disrupted, but it was back to normal within weeks. You can enjoy, just as before, Tokyo’s business centers and modern architecture, museums, fashions and great shopping. Japan is also rich with history, culture and traditions, and it has many World Heritage Sites all over its territory. The “Old Japan” is intact.
Before the earthquake, The United States was the fourth largest country of origin of tourists who visited Japan. Visit Japan this year! This is the best way you can support us now.
Today, we have special Japanese sake (rice wine), carefully selected and brought from Tohoku Japan for this occasion. Let’s taste it!
Thank you for your attention.
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