Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did not use the word “nuclear accident” in a speech he delivered at a government-sponsored memorial ceremony for the Great East Japan Earthquake, held in Tokyo on March 11. The ceremony has been held every year since 2012, the year after the 3/11 disaster. This year marked the sixth anniversary of the disaster. Up until last year, the prime minister had referred to the “nuclear accident” in his speeches at the event without exception.
In the 2012 ceremony, then Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said, “The fight against the nuclear accident is continuing.” Abe used the following phrase in both 2013 and 2014: “There are a large number of people who are still unable to return to their hometowns even now because to the nuclear accident.” In 2015 and 2016, he rephrased the remark, saying: “There are many who cannot return to their beloved homes because of the accident at the nuclear power plant.”
This time, Abe played up the achievements of reconstruction efforts by saying, “I feel that reconstruction is making steady progress” and “the lifting of evacuation zones is gradually being implemented in Fukushima, prompting me to feel that reconstruction has reached a new stage.”