(Vatican Radio) It was exactly three years ago, on March 11 2011, when one of the
largest earthquakes ever recorded hit Japan's Eastern Coast spawning a ferocious tsunami.
Over 17.000 people were killed in the disaster and hundreds of thousands were left with nothing.
The area around the Fukushima nuclear power plant in the northeast was evacuated after the reactor's cooling system failed, and the extent of the damage caused by nuclear leaks is still unknown.
Three years on, Bishop Isao Kikuchi, SVD, President of Caritas Japan, renews his appeal for support and prayers because - he says - there is still a multitude of people "in the disaster hit area who are not able to regain their hope for the future and who are living in the darkness of despair and loss".
Please find below the full text of Bishop Kikuchi's message for the third anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan's Eastern coast in 2011:
Three years have passed since the massive earthquake and tsunami hit Tohoku area of Japan which destroyed and changed lives of so many people in Japan. More than seventeen thousand lives were taken away.
After the disaster, in the chaotic aftermath of such a massive destruction of daily lives, we became optimistic of recovery. We thought, considering the economic strength and technological advancement of Japan, three years would be quite enough for the disaster hit area to return to normal life.
It is not so. More than 270,000 people are not able to return to their homes. Almost as many are still living in temporary shelters. As for the nuclear power plants in Fukushima, no one actually knows what are really going on inside the damaged plants though the prime minister already made a statement during international gatherings that everything is under control.
The disaster hit area is under the Catholic Diocese of Sendai and Caritas Japan has been supporting the relief efforts of the diocese. Entire Catholic Church communities in Japan have worked together to support Sendai diocese. Recently in February, we Catholic Bishops of Japan renewed our resolution to continue the effort to mobilize entire Catholic communities in Japan for another 3 years. The Catholic Church in our country is committed to accompanying people in the disaster hit area as long as they need us. So we still need your support and prayers.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you, our friends in the Caritas family, for your generous support and prayers for Japan. We are so grateful for your gestures of solidarity. As I mentioned above, while thanking all of you from bottom of my heart, I am obliged to renew our appeal for help to be with all these people in the disaster hit area who are not able to regain their hope for the future and who are living in the darkness of despair and loss.
Thank you so much for your generosity and may God bless you all.
Bishop Isao Kikuchi, SVD
President, Caritas Japan