March 16, 2018
On Friday, March 16, 2018, U.S. Ambassador to Japan William F. Hagerty visited the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant for the first time, to learn about what happened at the plant in the immediate aftermath of the 3/11 earthquake and tsunami, and see the progress that has been made over the last seven years as well as the remaining challenges. At the nuclear power plant, he addressed over 200 workers at the site and offered them the following words of gratitude and encouragement.
This week we marked the seventh anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, which caused so many deaths and so much devastation in Fukushima and all throughout this part of Japan, and I wish to express my deepest condolences to all the victims and their families.
This is my first opportunity to learn firsthand about the devastating impact of the 3/11 disaster on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and the surrounding community, and how the government, Japanese corporate and civil society, international donors and TEPCO are all working together to clean up this site and revitalize the region. It is heartening to see how much hard work and effort has gone into these endeavors in the seven years since that tragic day, but it’s also clear there’s still a long way to go.
One thing I was struck by during my visit today was how successful you have been at stabilizing this site after the meltdowns seven years ago. When previous U.S. ambassadors visited Fukushima Daiichi, radiation levels were much higher, more protective clothing was required, and movement around the site was much more restricted. There is no doubt that the situation at Fukushima Daiichi has steadily gotten safer and more stable over the years, and this is largely a testament to your hard work and dedication.
I am reminded of the old Japanese proverb, nana korobi ya oki – fall down seven times, get up eight. You all truly embody this spirit of fierce determination to move forward despite the immense challenges that this site and this region have faced.
The United States, as we have since the day of the tragedy with Operation Tomodachi, and in the years since with the TOMODACHI Initiative, will continue to support our allies and friends, the people of Fukushima and the entire region affected by the 3/11 triple disaster, as you strive to achieve a brighter future. Through TOMODACHI Initiative exchange programs over 6000 young Japanese and Americans, many from right here in Fukushima prefecture, have traveled across the Pacific on exchange programs to learn about each other’s societies and culture and build the people-to-people ties we will need to keep our great alliance strong long into the future.
The United States, both through our public sector institutions and private sector companies, has also continued to support cleanup efforts here at Fukushima Daiichi. U.S. technologies have been used in some of the important equipment being used here on site, and our scientists continue to collaborate on complex engineering problems. We remain eager to strengthen these partnerships moving forward.
It’s been a privilege to visit here today, and I want to thank the Government of Japan, Fukushima prefectural government, and TEPCO for arranging today’s tour. And most of all I want to thank you for your dedication and hard work. What you are doing here to rebuild Fukushima and the Tohoku region is remarkable, and I look forward to returning in the months and years to come as I continue as U.S. Ambassador to Japan to see your progress, and get to know more of the people here and learn about your courage and resilience.