Message from Mr. Yukio Edano,
Chief Cabinet Secretary of the Government of Japan,

to the World Economic Forum Global Risks Meeting

Opening Remarks

I would like to take this opportunity to express once again my respect for your efforts by the risk officers in both the public and private sectors who are participating in this first Global Risks Meeting.  Japan, as you know, was struck by an unprecedented disaster on March 11.  Never has there been such a need for group of experts in the area of risk that transcended national boundaries and stretch across the lines separating the public and private sectors.  On behalf of the Government of Japan I would like to extend my regards to the World Economic Forum, which conceived this Meeting, and its founder, Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab.

The Great East Japan Earthquake, a magnitude 9 quake, is the greatest disaster Japan has faced since the end of World War II, having at the same time caused tsunamis and a nuclear power accident.  At present more than 27,000 people have lost their lives or are unaccounted for, and more than 165,000 remain evacuated.

Over 130 countries, more than 30 international organizations, as well as over 1,500 NGOs and other entities have expressed their willingness to provide assistance, with nearly 70 billion yen in donations being collected in total from these groups and donors within Japan.  Feeling a circle of solidarity extending to the international community, Japan sincerely appreciates the cordial assistance from all around the world.

 

 

Current State of the Nuclear Plant and Future Prospects

We regret that Japan has experienced the most serious nuclear accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.  Bringing the situation at the nuclear power plant under stable control at the earliest possible date is our immediate focus. In order to combat the danger posed by the plant, we are tackling problem through the advice and cooperation of not only our domestic resources but also various national governments, international organizations, private corporations, as well as experts.

While the greatest possible efforts to stabilize Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station remain ongoing, including the injection of freshwater and work to restore electricity, at its turbine buildings and elsewhere, water containing high levels of radioactive material has been detected, with outflows into the ocean having been confirmed, among other issues.  Although the outflow of water containing high levels of radioactive material into the ocean was successfully stopped on the morning of the 6th, we cannot prejudge the situation.  We will continue to dedicate our utmost efforts to preventing the diffusion of radioactive materials.

In so doing, the government of Japan will (1) place the highest priority on the health and safety of local residents and the people, (2) plan for all possible scenarios, getting advice from experts (3) aim at minimizing risk, responding each situation, and (4) finally bring the situation under stable control. In this process, we will appropriately disclose information to the people of Japan as well as the international community including neighboring countries.

Japan intends to share with the international community the knowledge and experience obtained through this situation in order to contribute to reinforcing the safety of nuclear power generation.

 

Impacts on the Economy and Supply Chains and the Current Situation

This disaster has also significantly impacted the economy.  Capital stock has been lost at an enormous scale, centered on the Tohoku and northern Kanto regions.  Damages have been estimated at a scale of 16 to 25 trillion yen.  From the perspective of flows, despite negative impacts, increased production is also expected in order to re-establish stocks.

A large number of parts/components and materials manufacturers are situated in the Tohoku and northern Kanto regions, with manufacturing halted temporarily as a result of the earthquake disaster.  The effects on supply chains both domestically and overseas have had ripple effects, with repercussions felt in a portion of the manufacturing and trade activities of Europe, the United States, and Asia.

However, the industrial production of the regions impacted by the tsunamis is approximately 2% of the national figure, and manufacturing hubs in western and central Japan are undamaged.  Moreover, manufacturing activities in the impacted regions are steadily moving towards resumption.

Japan has a responsibility to provide parts, materials and industrial products to the world.  In order to minimize impacts on supply chains both domestically and overseas, we will assess in careful detail the magnitude of the impacts, the potential for substitutions, and other aspects and implement as rapidly as possible various forms of assistance measures, including those for restoring infrastructure, supplying electricity, and financial sector-related efforts.

 

Ensuring Safety

In light of such circumstances, it will also be critical to address reputational damage.  Japan will exercise adequate care in ensuring the safety of local residents and moreover continue to work to provide information that is prompt and accurate to the international community, with the greatest possible transparency.

Some countries and regions are conducting radiation-related testing and taking other measures to strengthen regulations.  With regard to food safety, for example, Japan has been taking steps to ensure distribution of safe food by establishing provisional standard for food and beverages and specifying consumption and shipment restrictions among other measures.

Industrial products are also subject to stringent quality control.  At the current time, the amount of radiation on Japan’s industrial products is not at a level that causes impacts upon health of people.  The safety of seaports and airports that serve as hubs for international distribution is also recognized internationally.

In order to communicate the current state of affairs in an accurate manner, briefings are being conducted for foreign diplomatic missions in Japan, the foreign press corps, and businesspeople, and we are providing accurate information on the level of radioactivity in various locations.  We will continue to work to provide information that is prompt and accurate so as to avoid reputational damage and ensure the smooth implementation of Japan’s economic activities.  We ask that those who are involved in such matters undertake level-headed responses firmly grounded in scientific facts.

 

A Call for Participation by Companies Worldwide in the World’s Most Advanced Reconstruction Plan

The current natural disaster is truly a crisis for Japan.  However, as its miraculous reconstruction after World War II illustrates, Japan has been built up through the efforts of each individual citizen in the face of adversity.

In the future, embracing a spirit of “building Japan once more” together with the Japanese people under a long-term perspective, we will move forward towards the earliest possible recovery and reconstruction of the disaster-impacted regions and build communities well-equipped to withstand natural disasters.

For example, preparing for tsunami, we will situate residences on higher ground carved out of mountainsides and commute to fishing ports and other workplaces along the coastlines.  We will create ecotowns that are fully equipped with district heating utilizing plant matter and biomass from the region and cultivate features of communities that thoroughly foster public welfare.  We will proceed by moving forward with the world’s most advanced reconstruction plan, with a vision of going beyond mere restoration to the previous state and instead create a truly marvelous Tohoku region and indeed a marvelous Japan.

In aiming towards this reconstruction plan, we wish to make abundant use of corporate wisdom and technologies from not only within Japan but also from around the world.  Japan very much welcomes and looks forward to the cooperation and the participation of a large number of relevant parties.

We very much await your insights on these matters through your discussions with the staff of the Prime Minister’s Office.

I would like to close my remarks today with my sincere wish that going forward, this Global Risks Meeting will develop as a forum for productive exchanges of views, sharing of knowledge, and above all, concrete actions.