Almost two years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake and resultant tsunami struck on March 11, and Japan wishes to express its heartfelt gratitude for the outpouring of support from the international community.
At present, Japan’s top priority is accelerating the revitalization process emphasizing the following three pillars: economic revival, reconstruction and crisis management. More than 10 trillion yen (approximately 106 billion USD) is being budgeted to stimulate the economy. The 2012 and 2013 reconstruction budgets have been expanded with a major investment of 2.2 trillion yen (approximately 23.4 billion USD) to restore and fortify infrastructure including schools, highways and bridges. These structures will also serve as shelters and vital transportation routes during emergencies. Regionally, reconstruction and revitalization of Fukushima, which was affected by the nuclear power plant incident, will be intensified significantly from this year onward.
Steady progress is being made on reconstruction. Housing has been provided to all of the 320,000 people displaced by the earthquake and tsunami. Among the facilities that were closed due to the disaster, more than 165 (90%) of 184 hospitals and 1,801 (77%) of the 2,325 schools have been reopened. In 2012, around 8.37 million visitors came to Japan, representing a significant increase from 6.22 million in 2011, and a return to pre-March 11 levels.
Japan seeks to leverage and reaffirm the total economic potential of the Tohoku region as part of nationwide revitalization through the efforts described above. Japan will continue to expedite reconstruction while co-operating with international partners and welcomes the participation and involvement of foreign companies in related projects.
On Sunday, March 10 at the Fisher Pavilion in the Seattle Center, the Consulate-General of Japan, together with the Japan-America Society of the State of Washington and the Seattle Center, is co-organizing the memorial event, “Shout Out to Japan! Cheers from Seattle”. Through this event, participants will be able to experience the bond of friendship between the Pacific Northwest and Japan, and learn about Japan’s steady recovery.
Washington State and Hyogo Prefecture are celebrating the 50th anniversary of sister-state relations this year, and the United States and Japan continue to enjoy close cultural and economic ties. We encourage all of you to visit Japan and deepen these ties while witnessing firsthand Japan’s revitalization.
Note: The same email arrived to Montana residents, without the second-to-last paragraph, and the first sentence of the last paragraph is replaced with “The State of Montana and Kumamoto Prefecture have a long sister state-prefecture relationship, and the United States and Japan continue to enjoy close cultural and economic ties.”