TIMs Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan Attend a Memorial Service in Tokyo. (VIDEOS)

On Tuesday, March 11, 2014, Their Imperial Majesties Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan arrived at the National Theatre of Japan in Tokyo to attend a memorial service held on the occasion of the third anniversary of 9.0 earthquake off the Tōhoku coast and the devastating tsunami that followed.

During today’s service His Imperial Majesty gave a speech.  Here is what he had to say:

“As we commemorate the third anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, together with the people gathered here today, I would like to again offer my deepest condolences to those who lost their lives in the disaster and their bereaved families.

The huge earthquake and tsunami that struck eastern Japan three years ago today left more than twenty thousand people dead or missing. Many people are still living under difficult conditions whether they are in the afflicted regions or in the places where they evacuated to. The nuclear power plant accident caused by the disaster is making some regions still off-limits because of radioactive contamination, forcing many people to leave the places where they used to live. It pains me greatly to think that so many people do not yet know when they can go back to their own homes.

In the past three years, people in the afflicted regions, still living under severe conditions, have overcome numerous difficulties with a strong sense of solidarity and made great efforts towards reconstruction. I am also heartened to see that many people, both at home and abroad, continue to support these efforts in various ways.

My thoughts go out to the afflicted people who must still be experiencing various hardships. In order to ensure that they can live in good health, and that they can live without losing hope, it is important that everyone’s hearts be with the afflicted for many years to come. It is my hope that people will never forget this disaster and hand down the lessons we learned to future generations, and foster a proper attitude towards disaster prevention, with the aim of making our country a safer place.

Together with the people gathered here today, I would like to express my hope that days of peace and quiet will return as soon as possible to the afflicted regions. In closing, I offer once again my most sincere condolences to all those who lost their lives in the Great East Japan Earthquake.”