TOKYO — Emperor Akihito addressed the people of Japan in a video broadcast on March 16. The Imperial Household Agency released the following translation:
“I am deeply saddened by the devastating situation in the areas hit by the Tohoku-Pacific Ocean Earthquake, an unprecedented 9.0-magnitude earthquake, which struck Japan on March 11. The number of casualties claimed by the quake and the ensuing tsunami continues to rise by the day, and we do not yet know how many people have lost their lives. I am praying that the safety of as many people as possible will be confirmed.
“My other grave concern now is the serious and unpredictable condition of the affected nuclear power plant. I earnestly hope that through the all-out efforts of all those concerned, further deterioration of the situation will be averted.
“Relief operations are now under way with the government mobilizing all its capabilities, but, in the bitter cold, many people who were forced to evacuate are facing extremely difficult living conditions due to shortages of food, drinking water and fuel. I can only hope that by making every effort to promptly implement relief for evacuees, their conditions will improve, even if only gradually, and that their hope for eventual reconstruction will be rekindled.
“I would like to let you know how deeply touched I am by the courage of those victims who have survived this catastrophe and who, by bracing themselves, are demonstrating their determination to live on.
“I wish to express my appreciation to the members of the Self-Defense Forces, the police, the fire department, the Japan Coast Guard and other central and local governments and related institutions, as well as people who have come from overseas for relief operations and the members of various domestic relief organizations, for engaging in relief activity round the clock, defying the danger of recurring aftershocks. I wish to express my deepest gratitude to them.
“I have been receiving, by cable, messages of sympathy from the heads of state of countries around the world, and it was mentioned in many of those messages that the thoughts of the peoples of those countries are with the victims of the disaster. These messages I would like to convey to the people in the afflicted regions.
“I have been told that many overseas media are reporting that, in the midst of deep sorrow, the Japanese people are responding to the situation in a remarkably orderly manner, and helping each other without losing composure. It is my heartfelt hope that the people will continue to work hand in hand, treating each other with compassion, in order to overcome these trying times.
“I believe it extremely important for us all to share with the victims as much as possible, in whatever way we can, their hardship in the coming days. It is my sincere hope that those who have been affected by the disaster will never give up hope and take good care of themselves as they live through the days ahead, and that each and every Japanese will continue to care for the afflicted areas and the people for years to come and, together with the afflicted, watch over and support their path to recovery.”
To see the video, go to www.kunaicho.go.jp/e-okotoba/01/address/tohokujishin-h230316-mov.html.
On Wednesday, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited survivors at Nippon Budokan, a sports and concert arena in Tokyo that has been transformed into an evacuation center. Most of the people housed there are from Fukushima Prefecture.