Ten years ago, the Great East Japan Earthquake touched off a trio of disasters that claimed countless lives and caused immense suffering and damage for the people of Japan. On this solemn occasion, we remember all those who were lost, and we extend our deepest condolences to the families and communities who were devastated and who are still mourning such an immense tragedy.
When the catastrophic earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power plant accident hit, Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and U.S. Forces immediately sprang into action, joining together to perform search-and-rescue operations and to provide supplies and transportation to those in need.
Japan and the United States worked hand-in-hand to alleviate suffering and to respond to the accident at the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, with the aid of experts, goods, and equipment from many countries. After the catastrophe, U.S. and Japanese forces also worked in lockstep to restore operations at Sendai Airport, which also served as a hub to distribute over two million tons of relief supplies. And our peoples stepped up as well, with American and Japanese citizens working together at the grassroots level to contribute to Japan’s recovery and reconstruction. Five months after the disasters, then-Vice President Biden visited Natori and Sendai to see the relief efforts firsthand, as well as the incredible strength and resilience of the Japanese people. Then, as now, our joint efforts hold a special place in the hearts and memories of both our peoples—a testament to the special bond and the unshakable friendship that is the U.S.-Japanese alliance.
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We must not forget that, even after ten years, many of those affected continue to struggle in the wake of the disaster. In support of these individuals and to honor who we lost, Japan and the United States will continue to move forward shoulder-to-shoulder as “tomodachi” (friends) to finish the reconstruction of the Tōhoku region and to realize a better future for us all.
SUGA Yoshihide Joseph R. Biden Prime Minister of Japan President of the United States of America