On the Tenth Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami
Statement by WCRP/RfP Japan
Ten years had passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami on March 11, 2011. Many precious lives were lost. We renew our prayer for the victims of the disaster. We would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families of the victims. Let us express our sincere sympathy to the people the disaster has injured and the evacuees who have been living under severe circumstances for such a long time. Let us express our most profound respect and gratitude to all those who have worked so hard to respond to the disaster, support the victims, and rebuild the community and the infrastructure.
Although progress has been made in restoring infrastructure and other facilities thanks to the dedicated efforts of many people, the complex disaster of the earthquake, tsunami, and the nuclear power plant accident still leaves many scars in the affected areas and creates various new challenges. Serious social problems exist in the affected area. Evacuees' physical and mental health is worsening. Families face the danger of break-ups. People feel isolated because they have lost ties in local communities. The reduction of financial supports by governments and private organizations as well as the termination of compensation creates poverty. The accident at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is still extremely far from finding any solutions.
The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami made us religious leaders realize the mutability of nature. Human power has limits in that mutability. It made us think about what faith is. Religion is closely related to people's lives and livelihoods. It was the mission given to us by God and Buddha to bring comfort, hope, encouragement, and emotional healing to the victims of the disaster by standing with them and walking with them.
WCRP/RfP Japan, which aims to build peace through the cooperation and collaboration of various religious leaders, has been engaged in support activities if in a humble way. We established three policies: (1) mourn and repose the lost lives, (2) show solidarity with those who live today, and (3) take responsibility for the lives to come. We worked on memorial services, spiritual care, community building, support for people with special needs, training of interfaith chaplaincies, advocacy for eliminating nuclear power, and promoting renewable energy, raising awareness about the acceptance of developmentally disabled children in evacuation centers.
Through these experiences, we have learned that religious leaders have enormous responsibilities and roles to play in times of disaster. There are rooms for our activities in each phase of disaster prevention, emergency response, recovery, and reconstruction. And we need to build open relationships with local governments, national government, private organizations, and international organizations to collaborate to work in the communities. Above all, religious leaders' responsibility and roles in times of disaster are to pray for the victims in grief, pain, and suffering and to implement practices that will bring them peace of mind.
The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami left many people saddened and suffer. The situation is still true to date. We think of the boundless compassion and guidance of God and Buddha. Our hearts ache for the victims' plight, and we carry their grief and suffering in our hearts. Beyond the boundaries of religions and denominations, people of all faiths should cooperate to convey the disaster area's current situation as broadly as possible and pass it on to future generations, never to fade the memories of the disaster away.
On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the disaster, WCRP/RfP Japan pledges to continue to walk with those living in the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami's pain and practice compassion to alleviate their suffering. We, together with the RfP international network, are determined to strengthen further our actions based on the RfP's guiding principles of (1) promoting networking with all sectors, (2) awareness-raising and advocacy activities, (3) peace education and ethics education, and (4) humanitarian assistance - for disaster response around the world and future disaster prevention.
Chair of WCRP/RfP Japan
The Most Rev. N. Makoto Uematsu
(Bishop of The Nippon Sei Ko Kai, the Anglican Church of Japan)