the Chairperson of the Japanese National Commission for UNESCO
the Director-General of Asia-Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO
On this very sad occasion, I would like to express my deepest condolences for all the people who lost their lives in the Great East Japan Earthquake as well as my sincere sympathies for all those who have been affected.
In the disaster areas, many people lost their families and friends, homes and jobs all in an instant and, in addition, more than 9,000 educational, scientific and cultural facilities were destroyed or damaged, enormously affecting the education environment of a large number of children.
This year will be 60 years since Japan became a member of UNESCO, and 64 years since the start of the non-governmental UNESCO movement. In particular, Sendai City was the birthplace for non-governmental UNESCO activities worldwide, and activities by UNESCO Schools have been actively promoted, such as in Kesennuma City, making the Tohoku Region one of the nationwide leaders in active implementation of UNESCO activities.
In times of such an unprecedented disaster, based on the UNESCO spirit cultivated thus far, which advocates peace founded on the intellectual and spiritual solidarity of humankind, the Japanese people need to unite as one and support the children and teachers in the affected areas.
This earthquake renewed our awareness of the importance of disaster prevention education, reinforcing UNESCO’s continuous promotion of ESD (Education for Sustainable Development) for the cultivation of personnel who can contribute to the resolution of global challenges such as natural disasters and climate change, for the realization of sustainable societies. We, the Japanese National Commission for UNESCO, will be considering mid-term and long-term measures to support the afflicted areas, including the reinforcement of such measures in the future.
In addition, various organizations related to UNESCO in Japan have been collecting donations to support children, teachers and schools in the afflicted areas, while UNESCO Headquarters has taken measures to extend support to the disaster-stricken areas, as symbolized by Director-General Irina Bokova’s statement calling on the UNESCO members worldwide to contribute to assistance. As the Japanese National Commission for UNESCO, we will be continuing to support these efforts and would like to ask for your continuous support.
Finally, I sincerely hope for speed recovery in the affected areas, and pray that all the disaster victims are able to overcome this challenge and return to their peaceful lives and promising future as soon as possible.
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