At about 2:46 p.m. on Friday, March 11, a massive earthquake occurred with its epicenter off the coast on the Pacific side of northeast Japan. The magnitude of the devastating quake was 9.0 on the Richter scale, the largest on record in Japan. In the most hard-hit inland areas, the earthquake registered 6 to 7 on the Japanese seismic scale. Large tremors were also recorded over a wide area stretching from Hokkaido to western Japan, including Tokyo.
Almost immediately after the earthquake, a huge tsunami, the largest ever recorded in Japan, reached the shores of the Pacific side of the region, causing serious damage in coastal areas.
RENGO President Nobuyuki Koga issued a statement on Monday, March 14, expressing his deep condolences to the thousands of victims who lost their lives and his heartfelt sympathy to all those who have suffered from the unexpected disaster.
Many houses and buildings have been lost, lifelines have been severed, and many people are suffering at evacuation sites. Urgent support is needed, and the earliest rescue activities are necessary because tens of thousands of people are still missing.
The government immediately set up an emergency disaster response headquarters headed by Prime Minister Naoto Kan and designated the region as a "devastating disaster area." It also has deployed Self-Defense Force personnel on a large scale in the hard-hit areas. In his statement, RENGO President Koga expressed his appreciation for this rapid and appropriate response by the government.
Meanwhile, accidents at some nuclear power reactors are causing great anxiety among the people. RENGO President Koga requested the government to take foolproof measures for the accidents and to openly disclose information on them to the public. Furthermore, these accidents have had an impact on electric power supplies, and the company concerned has introduced rolling power cuts due to the shortage of electric power in the Kanto area. In order to solve this chaos and relieve the anxiety among the people, RENGO President Koga requested the government to make every effort to secure the safety and livelihood security of the people, especially by securing important lifelines.
RENGO President Koga then called on the government, as well as the ruling and opposition parties, to cooperate with each other in promoting rescue and restoration measures. He insisted that action from a broader standpoint is essential in order to regain the confidence of the people in politics and restore their sense of security.
Many countries are extending rescue support activities for the massive disaster damage. On behalf of the working people of Japan, RENGO President Koga expressed sincere gratitude for these international support and solidarity activities.
In his statement, RENGO President Koga expressed RENGO's determination not only to make efforts to protect the lives and assets of members and their families but also to tackle rescue and support activities and restoration activities with all its might as the social mission of the trade union movement.
RENGO President Koga added that RENGO has already set up the RENGO Disaster Response Headquarters at the RENGO Headquarters in order to collect information in cooperation with affiliates and local organizations and to carry out necessary activities.
RENGO President Koga promised that RENGO will fight to overcome this national catastrophe in cooperation with the government, local governments concerned, related organizations, nonprofit organizations, and others.
Finally, RENGO President Koga emphasized that in the face of this national crisis, it is a time to tackle rescue and restoration activities in unity and to act in a spirit of solidarity and mutual support.