As we commemorate the first anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, together with the people gathered here today, I would like to express my deepest condolences for the many people who lost their lives in this earthquake.
A year ago today, Japan was struck by an unexpectedly huge earthquake and tsunami, which resulted in almost twenty thousand dead and missing persons. We must not forget that this included many people, including fire fighters, who lost their lives as they devoted themselves to relief operations and disaster control without regard for their own safety.
As this earthquake and tsunami caused the nuclear power plant accident, those living in areas designated as the danger zone lost their homes and livelihoods and had to leave the places they used to live. In order for them to live there again safely, we have to overcome the problem of radioactive contamination, which is a formidable task.
After the earthquake, many people, including members of the Government and the local authorities as well as many volunteers, went to the afflicted areas and carried out various efforts to support the afflicted people. I am sure their activities helped to comfort the evacuees living under harsh conditions and encouraged them to think positively about the future. I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to the people who have worked for the afflicted people and afflicted regions and those who have been trying to contain the damage from the nuclear power plant accident.
Many people overseas responded to the disaster by sending us relief teams and offering us help in various ways. In many cables of sympathy I received from the foreign heads of state, they commented that they were truly impressed by how, under severe conditions, the afflicted people were helping each other and working towards reconstruction with a strong sense of solidarity. I am deeply grateful to the kindnesses shown by the people around the world.
It is expected that many difficult challenges lie ahead in the reconstruction of the afflicted areas. It is my hope that the people's hearts will always be with the afflicted people and the afflicted regions, and that everyone will continue to work towards improving the conditions of those areas. It is important for us to never forget this disaster and hand down the lessons we learned to future generations, and foster the proper attitude towards disaster prevention, with the aim of making our country a safer place.
In closing, I would like to express my hope that Japan will become once again a country where people can live with a sense of security and again offer my sincere condolences for all those who lost their lives in the Great East Japan Earthquake.
I wish to extend a heartfelt welcome to His Majesty the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Alhaj Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah and Her Majesty the Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Hajah Haminah, who are visiting our country as State Guests. It is a great delight for me to be able to spend this evening here with you.
I met Your Majesty for the first time 42 years ago, when I visited Malaysia as the Crown Prince together with the Crown Princess. This was a reciprocal visit following the State Visit to Japan in 1964 by His Majesty the then Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Syed Putra, the Raja of Perlis, and Her Majesty the then Raja Permaisuri Agong, and the then Crown Princess and I was making the visit on behalf of Emperor Showa. At that time, His Majesty the then Yang di-Pertuan Agong was ill, and Your Majesty, the then Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong welcomed us most kindly in Kuala Lumpur. This visit, which took us to the States of Penang, Perlis, Selangor, and Johor, was most meaningful for us, allowing us to deepen our understanding of Malaysia, which was a new country for us at the time. To this day we have fond memories of the warm welcome which the people extended to us at each of our destinations.
Our second visit to Malaysia was a State Visit in 1991, soon after my accession to the throne. We had the pleasure of meeting you once again then. We were scheduled to travel to the State of Perak, the home of the then Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Azlan Shah, but most unfortunately, we were prevented from visiting the state due to forest fires in a neighboring country. Fifteen years later, however, we were finally able to visit the State of Perak in 2006, on the occasion of our attendance at the 60th Anniversary Celebrations of the Accession to the Throne of His Majesty the King of Thailand. We had the pleasure of meeting with His Majesty Sultan Azlan Shah, the former Yang di-Pertuan Agong, and His Majesty’s family, and viewed a variety of exhibits prepared for us 15 years earlier at the Malay College Kuala Kangsar, which was a part of our itinerary in 1991. We felt profound gratitude upon seeing the great efforts that the local people had made to welcome us.
Following the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11 last year, His Majesty the then Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin graciously expressed his condolences and sympathies to me, and the Government of Malaysia provided shipments of relief goods for the victims of the disaster. I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude for the heartwarming sympathy and support that we have received from Malaysia.
Relations between Malaysia and Japan have developed greatly since diplomatic ties were established in 1957. Today bilateral cooperation is being carried out in various fields and our ties of friendship continue to grow closer than ever. In particular, I am delighted that under the Look East Policy proposed in 1981, many talented young Malaysians have come to study in Japan, thus contributing greatly to the development of Malaysia, and served as priceless bridges of friendship between our two nations. It is my earnest wish that this State Visit by Your Majesties will further deepen the friendly ties between our nations, which have been fostered over many years.
Malaysia is home to nine royal Rulers of its States, and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is elected from among these Rulers in turn to serve a five-year term on the throne. Your Majesty is the first Yang di-Pertuan Agong in Malaysian history to accede to the throne for the second time. You have always given your thought to the wellbeing of your people and, as a splendid symbol of Malaysian culture, you have received the respect and affection of your people. It is my sincere wish that Your Majesty, together with Her Majesty the Raja Permaisuri Agong, will continue in good health to carry out your important duties.
I sincerely hope that Your Majesties’ visit to Japan will be a pleasant and fruitful one. I would now like to propose a toast to the good health of Your Majesties and to the happiness of the people of Malaysia.