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Emergency Comment on Tohoku - Pacific Ocean Earthquake

I offer my sincerest condolences and sympathy to all those who have been affected by the Tohoku - Pacific Ocean Earthquake. This 8.8-magnitude earthquake is the strongest earthquake ever recorded in Japan, and a tremendous number of deaths and injuries due to the collapse of houses, fires, tsunami, etc. have been reported. I strongly hope that the rescue of the victims, the provision of support for their daily lives, and the restoration of infrastructure will be immediately carried out through the leadership of the Headquarters for Emergency Disaster Response of the Japanese government.


The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) also set up an Emergency Headquarters on the day of the earthquake. Similar to our efforts made on the occasions of past natural disasters, such as the Great Hanshin/Awaji Earthquake, the Niigata Chuetsu Earthquake, and the Niigata Chuetsu Offshore Earthquake, the JFBA, together with local bar associations, local governments, the Japan Legal Support Center, and other bodies, will offer free-legal-counseling services for those who have been affected by this earthquake in order to relieve any anxieties they are experiencing in their lives as well as to call for the enactment of necessary legislation and the appropriate operation of laws and regulations by administrative organs in order to support the victims.


This is especially necessary as the district struck by this earthquake contains many areas suffering from shortages of attorneys. The JFBA, mainly through Himawari Fund Law Offices (bar funded law offices) together with the support of JFBA members across the country, will put forward its utmost efforts to provide sufficient legal assistance for the victims in these areas.


Additionally, the Prime Minister has issued a declaration of a nuclear emergency situation at the Fukushima No. 1 and 2 nuclear power plants in accordance with the Act on Special Measures concerning Nuclear Emergency Preparedness. In particular, it has been reported that nuclear fuel rods in the No. 1 plant might be melting and in order to prevent damage to the nuclear reactor containment, radioactive materials were intentionally vented to the outside atmosphere. At this moment, the government has instructed those who live within 10km from the plants to evacuate. Considering the hazardous nature of nuclear power plants, we urge the government to take immediate and appropriate measures including the disclosure of further and more detailed information.


The JFBA urges central and local governments and other bodies concerned to work together in order to prevent further damage and pave the path to immediate restoration and recovery. We at the JFBA will also devote ourselves to providing all possible assistance.


March 12, 2011
Kenji Utsunomiya
Japan Federation of Bar Associations

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