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Pope in Japan: victims of triple disaster, “without basic resources, it is not possible” to rebuild

(Foto Vatican Media/SIR)

“Let us spend a moment in silence, so that our first word will be one of prayer for the more than eighteen thousand people who lost their lives, for their families and for those who are still missing”. Pope Francis said this at the beginning of his address at the Bellesalle Hanzomon auditorium, where he met with the victims of the “triple disaster” – the magnitude-9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that triggered a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant in March 2011, causing the death of 18,000 people. “May this prayer unite us and give us the courage to look forward with hope”, Pope Francis said in his speech, echoing the testimonies of three victims, whom he listened to and greeted upon his arrival. He then praised the “efforts of the local governments, organizations and individuals working for the reconstruction of the areas where the disasters struck, and for the relief of the over fifty thousand persons who have been evacuated and are living in temporary housing, still unable to return to their homes”. “I especially appreciate, as Toshiko pointed out, the speed with which many people, not only from Japan, but from all over the world, mobilized immediately after the disasters to support the victims with an outpouring of prayers and material and financial aid”, Pope Francis remarked. “We should not let this action be lost with the passage of time or disappear after the initial shock; rather, we should continue and sustain it”. “Some of those who lived in the affected areas now feel forgotten by others, and many must face ongoing problems”, the Pope pointed out: “contaminated land and forests and the long-term effects of radiation”. Hence an appeal to “all persons of good will, so that the victims of these tragedies will continue to receive much-needed assistance”. “Without basic resources such as food, clothing and shelter, it is not possible to live a worthy life and have the bare minimum needed to succeed in rebuilding. This, in turn, calls for experiencing the solidarity and support of a community”, the Holy Father emphasised. “No one ‘rebuilds’ by him or herself; nobody can start over alone. We have to find a friendly and fraternal hand, capable of helping to raise not just a city, but also our horizon and our hope”.

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