The First Anniversary Of The Great East Japan Earthquake

Photo Exhibition “Tohoku Region: Rebuilding for a Better Tomorrow” opens at Vienna International Centre

VIENNA, 12 March – Members of the international community in Vienna, Austria, joined with Japan today to mark the first anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, which occurred on 11 March 2011. The event co-hosted by the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV) and the Permanent mission of Japan includes a photo exhibition showing the rebuilding of the region affected in Japan.

During the ceremony, the Director-General of UNOV, Yury Fedotov, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, the Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), Tibor Tóth and the Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and Kandeh K. Yumkella (via video message) spoke ant the event.

The Great East Japan Earthquake, as it is known, and the tsunami that followed, killed more than 15,000 people and destroyed cities and villages along the coast of the country’s Tohoku region. The disaster also caused major damage to the Fukishima Daiichi nuclear power station. Some 3,000 people are still listed as missing and more than 340,000 others evacuated from the disaster zone have not been able to return.

Mr. Fedotov said: “the events of that day had a powerful hold on our memory, with many people showing uncommon courage: “Yet what remains so clear in our minds is the response of the Japanese people. I was particularly moved by their resourcefulness and determination to overcome this disaster.”

He also paid tribute to the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) following the accident at the Fukishima Daiichi nuclear power plant and also commended the valuable role of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs which, through the UN-Spider program, provided space-based information to the wider disaster-management community.

The photo exhibition entitled “Tohoku Region: Rebuilding for a Better Tomorrow” shows the destruction in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake and also the reconstruction carried out in the last 12 months.

The Japanese Ambassador Toshire Ozawa expressed Japan’s determination to reconstruct and revitalize the area affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. He also talked about the progress made in recovering from the nuclear accident at the Fukishima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.

Yukiya Amano, IAEA Director General said that he was “deeply shocked and saddened by the devastation and the great loss of life” which the disaster inflicted on the country. Referring to the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which was crippled as a result of the tsunami, he said the IAEA had been “a steadfast partner for Japan” and would continue to do everything it could to help overcome the effects of the accident in the coming years. The event, which was organised by the Permanent Mission of Japan to the International Organizations in Vienna, took place at the Vienna International Centre.

Mr. Amano underlined that the international community had learned many lessons from the accident, which has helped make nuclear safety stronger than it was a year ago. “Fukshima Daiichi was a very serious accident, but we know what went wrong and we have a clear course of action to tackle those causes – not only in Japan but anywhere in the world,” Mr. Amano said. He added that countries around the world are searching out weak links in their own nuclear safety systems and taking action to strengthen them.

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