9 Years On: Japan Govt to End 2011 Disaster Ceremony Next Year

Politics

Tokyo, March 13 (Jiji Press)--The administration of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to hold the final government-sponsored memorial ceremony for victims of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in 2021, which will mark the 10th anniversary of the catastrophe, although the country is only halfway toward reconstructing areas affected by the natural disaster and the subsequent nuclear accident.

The move is apparently intended for Abe to highlight the progress made by his administration in the postdisaster reconstruction efforts before his term of office as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party expires in September next year, sources familiar with the situation said.

Many in disaster areas, however, are now concerned that the end of the government-hosted memorial ceremony would lead the public to forget the huge natural disaster that left more than 18,000 people dead or missing.

This year, the government called off its March 2011 ceremony in the wake of the outbreak in Japan of the new coronavirus that originated in China. Instead, the government held a small-scale flower-laying ceremony at the prime minister's office in Tokyo on Wednesday, exactly nine years after the quake and tsunami that mainly hit the Tohoku northeastern Japan region on March 11, 2011.

"We should never let the precious disaster lessons learned from massive sacrifices fade away," Abe said at Wednesday's ceremony, joined by some 20 people, also including government officials such as Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, disaster management minister Ryota Takeda and reconstruction minister Kazunori Tanaka. "Progress has been made steadily in the reconstruction efforts in areas devastated by the disaster," Abe said, adding, "The rebuilding work has entered a final phase."

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press