“The friendship and alliance between our two nations is unshakeable, and only strengthens our resolve to stand with the people of Japan as they overcome this tragedy.” – Former President Barack H. Obama on March 11, 2011
Ten years ago on March 11, 2011, an earthquake struck the island nation of Japan. In its aftermath, a tsunami and a nuclear accident further caused loss of life and significant damage to critical infrastructure. Ten years later, our two nations still feel the emotional and physical effects of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
In the immediate aftermath of the triple disaster, the United States moved quickly to provide disaster relief assistance and equipment that would cool down failing nuclear reactors. Together with Japanese government officials and the Japan Self-Defense Forces, the United States launched “Operation Tomodachi” (Operation Friendship) to coordinate relief efforts and provide assistance to tens of thousands of individuals in a short period of time.
Under Operation Tomodachi, the United States and Japan carried out unparalleled search, rescue, and recovery efforts. At its peak, the United States had 24,000 personnel, 190 aircraft, and 24 Navy ships supporting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts. These contributions were reflective of the United States’ unwavering support for the people of Japan.
The scale and scope of the situation necessitated unprecedented coordination of efforts between our two governments and militaries in the aftermath of the earthquake. The United States and Japan continue to further strengthen coordination on disaster assistance and humanitarian relief by conducting bilateral rescue exercises and training to ensure the Alliance is prepared to confront future disasters.
“The United States stands in solidarity with Japan to remember those lost and still missing, and to honor the resilience of the Japanese people who rebuilt their homes, their livelihoods, and their communities,” said Secretary Blinken in a statement on March 11 commemorating the 10th anniversary.
A video message from Chargé d'Affaires Joe Young, Ambassador Hagerty, Ambassador Kennedy, and Ambassador Roos on the 10th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. #10YearsLaterpic.twitter.com/M7rVoXzBgT
— アメリカ大使館 (@usembassytokyo) March 11, 2021
The U.S.-Japan Alliance continues to be the cornerstone of peace, security, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world. As Secretary Blinken said, “we will continue to stand strong together in the face of any adversity to come.”
Read Secretary Blinken’s full statement on the 10th Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake here.
Read the joint statement from President Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga commemorating the anniversary here.
Learn more about Operation Tomodachi here.
Visit our website here to learn more about U.S.-Japan relations.