Haruki Murakami, looking pensive, head resting on his right hand

Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami met many victims of the earthquake which damaged Kobe, Japan in 1995. He later published six related stories in 'after the quake'. Jay Rubin, who translated the work into English, commented on the collection: "The central characters in 'after the quake' live far from the physical devastation, which they witness only on TV or in the papers, but for each of them the massive destruction unleashed by the earth itself becomes a turning point in their lives."

On March 11, 2011 a massive earthquake struck the eastern part of Japan. Within an hour, tsunami waves with record heights crossed Japan's Pacific coast, destroying many villages and towns in the area. The earthquake and tsunami claimed around 20 thousand lives. Damage to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant led to meltdowns, explosions and the release of large amounts of radioactivity into the environment.

Later in 2011 Haruki Murakami was awarded the Catalunya International Prize, which is awarded annually to a person whose creative work has made a significant contribution to the development of cultural, scientific or human values. Murakami's acceptance speech deserves widespread publication. It takes a strong stand against the decision of the Japanese government to develop a reliance on Nuclear Power and against the passive acceptance of that decision by the Japanese people. Here we present a translation into English:

"The last time I visited Barcelona was in spring two years ago. I took part in a book-signing event, and was surprised at how many readers queued up for my autograph. It took more than one and a half hours to sign for all of them, because many of my female readers wanted to kiss me. It all took quite some time.

Iíve taken part in book-signing events in many other cities throughout the world, but only in Barcelona were there women who wanted to kiss me. If only for this reason, it struck me that Barcelona was a quite extraordinary place. Iím very glad to be back here in this beautiful city, which has such a rich history and wonderful culture.

But Iím sorry to say that today, I must talk about something more serious than kisses. As you surely know, at 2:46 pm on March 11, a massive earthquake struck the northeast area of Japan. The force of this quake was so great that the earth spun faster on its axis, and the day was shortened by 1.8 millionth of a second...