Japan Consul General Addresses Joint Session of Legislature

The Honorable Yoshihiko Kamo gives update on Japan Earthquake & Tsunami Aftermath

Media Release:

The Honorable Yoshihiko Kamo, Consul General of Japan in Honolulu, addressed a special joint session of the Hawaii State Legislature today, providing an update on conditions in Japan more than a month after the March 11, 2011 Great East Japan earthquake, considered one of the most powerful earthquakes in recorded history.  He also expressed thanks for the support and assistance from the international community, the government and people of Hawaii, and appreciation for the strong bonds between Hawaii and Japan.

Yoshihiko Kamo

Yoshihiko Kamo

Consul General Kamo delivered an official update on the impact through a statement released by the Prime Minister of Japan, Naoto Kan.  The complete text of the Prime Minister’s statement is provided at the end of this release.

In his own words, Consul General Kamo said he was touched by the human dignity and compassion of the Japanese people amidst the triple calamity of an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.  He spoke of the relationship between Hawaii and Japan that began more than 125 years ago, and pledged to make sure that the people of Japan know how much Hawaii helped and cared about them.

“I want to tell you that Japanese tourists will be back soon,” said Consul General Kamo.  “The great earthquake and tsunami made many Japanese refrain from having fun to show condolence and solidarity with the victims.  With more than 500,000 cancellations, Japan’s domestic tourism suffered a heavy blow.  Accordingly, there has emerged a growing apprehension that excessive self-restraint does more harm than good to the stricken area as it slows down the economy.  Hawaii’s appeal to Japanese tourists remains unchanged.  Nature, people, history, safety, cleanliness, and proximity all contribute to alluring Japanese to Hawaii. You can count on our loyalty.”

Consul General Kamo described the sharp drop of foreign visitors to Japan as another serious problem and attributed it to the fear of exposure to radiation.

“Radioactive contamination is largely an on-site and near-site issue,” he added.  “A large part of Japan escapes from contamination that poses general threat to the public health.  World Health Organization (WHO), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and International Maritime Organization (IMO) have made objective assessments that general travel restriction to Japan is not needed.  Going to Japan is not prohibited by any laws.  Whether it is Hokkaido or Kyushu, Tokyo or Kyoto, we eagerly await you in Japan and opportunities to reciprocate the hospitality.”

The Consul General closed by stating that Prime Minister Kam aims for an innovative reconstruction, drawing from the best ideas and expertise at home and abroad, and that Japan will be rebuilding steadily with help and support from Hawaii and the rest of the world.

Naoto Kan, Prime Minister of Japan

Naoto Kan, Prime Minister of Japan

“Japan: The Road to Recovery and Rebirth”

Naoto Kan, Prime Minister of Japan

 “At 14:46 on March 11, Japan was hit by one of the most powerful earthquakes in recorded history. We are now making all-out efforts to restore livelihoods and recover from the series of tragedies that followed the Great East Japan Earthquake. The disaster left more than 27,000 people dead or missing, including foreign citizens.

Since March 11, Japan has been strongly supported by the international community and our friends around the world. On behalf of the Japanese people, I would like to express my sincerest gratitude for the outpouring of support and solidarity we have received from over 130 countries, nearly 40 international organizations, numerous NGOs, and countless individuals from all parts of the world. The Japanese people deeply appreciate the Kizuna (a Japanese word for “bonds of friendship”) that has been shown to us by friends around the world. Through this hardship, we have also come to truly understand the meaning of “a friend in need is a friend indeed.”

Immediately after the earthquake struck, the U.S., our most important friend and ally, has provided swift cooperation. President Obama kindly called me to convey his strong commitment, confirming that the U.S. stands ready to provide all-out support to the Japanese people during this time of great difficulty. He also reaffirmed that the friendship and alliance between our two nations is unshakeable. So many Japanese citizens, including myself, were enormously encouraged by these remarks. From an early stage in the response efforts, U.S. Forces have diligently performed relief activities on multiple fronts as a part of Operation Tomodachi (named after the Japanese word for “friendship”). The cordial attitude that Americans have demonstrated toward us under this operation has deeply touched the hearts and minds of the Japanese. Support has come from not only the Government, but also NGOs and countless individuals, in the various forms of humanitarian assistance, search and rescue missions, and charity events and fund-raising. We have also received the full support of the U.S. in responding to the accidents at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, from providing equipment and other material assistance such as fire trucks and special protective suits, to dispatching nuclear experts and radiation control teams. I wish to express our sincere thanks for all the sympathy and assistance the American people have extended to us.

That Japan has experienced nuclear accidents at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant whose severity was assessed as most serious based on an international scale is extremely regrettable and something I take it very seriously. Bringing the situation at the plant under control at the earliest possible date is currently my top priority. I have been working at the forefront of efforts to tackle this troubling situation, leading a unified effort by the Government. I have mobilized all available resources to combat the risks posed by the plant, based on three principles: first, give the highest priority to the safety and health of all citizens, in particular those residents living close to the plant; second, conduct thorough risk management; and, third, plan for all possible scenarios so that we are fully prepared to respond to any future situation. For example, we continue to make the utmost efforts to address the issue of outflow of radioactive water into the ocean from the plant. In addition, the Government has taken every possible measure to ensure the safety of all food and other products, based on strict scientific criteria. We have taken highly precautionary measures so that the safety of all Japanese food and products that reach the market has been and will continue to be ensured. In order to assure domestic and foreign consumer confidence in the safety of Japanese food and products, my administration will redouble its efforts to maintain transparency and keep everyone informed of our progress in the complex and evolving circumstances at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.

I pledge that the Japanese Government will promptly and thoroughly verify the cause of this incident, as well as share information and the lessons learned with the rest of the world in order to prevent such accidents from occurring in the future. Through such a process, we will proactively contribute to global debate to enhance the safety of nuclear power generation. Meanwhile, from a comprehensive energy policy perspective, we must squarely tackle a two-pronged challenge; responding to rising global energy demand and striving to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to combat global warming. Through the “Rebirth of Japan” I would like to present a clear vision to the entire world – that includes the aggressive promotion of clean energy – that may contribute to solving global energy issues.

The Great East Japan Earthquake and the resulting tsunami are the worst natural disasters that Japan has faced since the end of the Second World War. Reconstruction of the devastated Tohoku region will not be easy. However, I believe that this difficult period will provide us with a precious window of opportunity to secure the “Rebirth of Japan.” The Government will dedicate itself to demonstrating to the world its ability to establish the most sophisticated reconstruction plans for East Japan, based on three principles; first, create a regional society that is highly resistant to natural disasters; second, establish a social system that allows people to live in harmony with the global environment; and third, build a compassionate society that cares about people, in particular, the vulnerable.

We, the Japanese people, rose from the ashes of the Second World War, using our fundamental strength to secure a remarkable recovery and the country’s present prosperity. I have not a single doubt that Japan will overcome this crisis, recover from the aftermath of the disaster, emerge stronger than ever, and establish a more vibrant and better Japan for future generations.

I believe that the best way for Japan to reciprocate the strong Kizuna and cordial friendship extended to us by the international community is to continue our contribution to the development of the international community. To that end, I will work to the best of my ability to realize a “forward-looking” reconstruction that gives people bright hopes for the future. I would wholeheartedly appreciate your continued support and cooperation. ARIGATOU.”

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