Japan has made remarkable progress in responding to earthquake disaster

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 March, 2012, 12:00am


March 11 is a date now etched in Japan's collective consciousness. We will not forget the outpouring of support and expressions of solidarity that Japan received from the international community. For this I take this opportunity to reiterate Japan's heartfelt appreciation.

Japan has made remarkable progress in responding to the disaster over the past year. I am confident that we have the collective will to tackle our most pressing issues: reconstruction of areas affected by the March 11 earthquake, full decommissioning of the Tokyo Electric Power Company's Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station and decontamination of affected areas, and revitalisation of the Japanese economy.

Among the many steps taken over the past has been the establishment of a budgetary and legislative framework that laid out strategic tools for reconstruction, such as the establishment of the Reconstruction Agency. In addition, procedures for monitoring and testing food products have been further strengthened, while state funds in excess of one trillion yen have been provided for the decontamination of residential areas close to the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.

We recognise that the issues of greatest concern among affected individuals, and for our nation as a whole, are job security and a sustainable livelihood for their families. Through the creation of special reconstruction zones and other initiatives these regions will stimulate new investment.

Japan is already a leader in the field of energy efficiency. Now is the time to put this expertise to use to create a new model for growth and sustainability that we can share with the world.

We must intelligently exploit the promise of new growth areas. Sectors such as energy, the environment, health and nursing care hold significant potential as leading growth industries, where Japan can tap innovative ideas and investment from the private sector, including foreign direct investment. We aim to create the conditions to support increased international interest and investment in Japan. As a prerequisite, we commit to providing timely and accurate information to the international community.

On the anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake we are reminded that we are now faced with a challenge of similar proportions. Our goal is not simply to reconstruct the Japan that existed before March 11, 2011, but to build a new Japan. This is an historic challenge and one that we are determined to overcome.

Yoshihiko Noda, Prime Minister of Japan