2012-03-10 Vatican RadioThe strong earthquake that struck Japan last year remains etched in the memory, not only of the people of the Rising Sun, but of the whole world – just like the even more frightening tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004, with its hundreds of thousands of victims. The Japanese earthquake and tsunami killed twenty thousand people, taking by surprise a country that has lived for centuries with these catastrophes – but this one struck without warning. And the disaster was compounded by the shocking accident at the nuclear plant of Fukushima, with the exceedingly dangerous long-term consequences. Faith in science and in emergency plans, and indeed the entire energy policy of an advanced and well-organised country, were radically at issue. Today in Japan four nuclear reactors are working while fifty are not. Experts think that last year’s shock created a situation of instability that makes the probability of another strong earthquake ever more likely. Life and expectations have changed. We all admired the courageous, dignified, and united way in which the Japanese people reacted to the tragedy and dealt with the consequences.
On Good Friday, in answer to a question from a little Japanese girl on a television programme, the Pope said: “I, too, wonder why. We don’t have answers, but we know that Jesus suffered like you, an innocent victim. God loves me, He is on my side, and one day I will realise that this suffering wasn’t meaningless. Rest assured, we are with you, with all Japanese children who are suffering. Let us pray together that light will come for you as soon as possible.” When facing a tragedy greater than us, we must not lose hope; we must try to find the ability to discover the deeper, lasting meaning of our destiny, of our journey together on this earth.