Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and leaders attending the 8th Pacific Island Leaders Meeting (P.A.L.M.) in Japan have paid tribute to the lives lost during the 2011 tsunami in Japan.
The disaster struck Iwaki City where the summit is held.
As the participants acknowledged a moment of silence, the Minister of Education Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, said it brought back to him painful memories.
Speaking to the Sunday Samoan, he said it reminded him of the same devastation that Samoa experienced during the 2009 tsunami where 147 people were killed.
The majority of lives were claimed at the south coast of Upolu.
“It was so emotional the way I looked at it because about 26,000 people lost their lives to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan,” he said.
“It made me think about what happened in Samoa back then."
“It is an issue that brings back a lot of emotions. It is very difficult."
“And so here in Japan, it was a heartfelt experience for people who had their entire families washed away, in some cases parents losing their children and also children becoming orphans."
“It was a very difficult.”
Counsellor for the Reconstruction Agency, Fumio Yamazaki said up until this very day, the people who were affected are still undergoing counselling.
The magnitude of the disaster was not lost on Prime Minister Tuilaepa.
“We continue to pray for the families of those who lost loved ones in this tragedy and we are honoured to be able to pay tribute to their memory earlier on today,” he said.
“As the people of Fukishima share with our Pacific family their experiences of perseverance and resilience as they rebuilt and reconstruct their lives following the devastating fate East earthquake and tsunami of 2011, the positive spirit on resilience of the people of Fukishima Prefecture to rebuilt are an inspiration to us all in the Pacific who are mainly coastline dwellers and whose everyday life is threaten by natural disasters and hazards and impacts of climate change,” he said.
“I am told that the Fukishima Prefecture is well known as the fruit kingdom."
“It’s richness of fruit varieties must be alike to the famous biblical garden of Eden. It is my hope that 8th P.A.L.M. Summit will yield similar planting for us all.”