As we mark one year since the catastrophic earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disasters in Japan, Michelle and I join all Americans in honoring the memory of the 19,000 victims lost or missing. We continue to be inspired by the Japanese people, who faced unimaginable loss with extraordinary fortitude. Their resilience and determination to rebuild stronger than before is an example for us all.Joe Biden's statement:
Since the first moments of the disaster, the United States mobilized to help our friends in Japan. At the peak of Operation Tomodachi—our single, largest bilateral military operation with Japan ever—the Department of Defense had 24,000 personnel, 190 aircraft, and 24 Navy ships supporting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts. One year later, we remain committed to assist the people of Japan to rebuild. This effort, led by the Japanese government, has benefitted from the compassion of the American people, who in difficult economic times have given generously to help. Today, U.S. experts continue to support Japan’s ongoing efforts to deal with the challenges associated with Fukushima, and the TOMODACHI public-private partnership is investing in the next generation to strengthen cultural and economic ties. We are grateful for the contributions of Americans, civilian and military, who have joined with people from around the world to support Japan’s recovery.
No one can forget the tragic images of disaster in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, or the heartbreak of friends who lost homes, belongings, and, most importantly, loved ones. Even as it works to rebuild its devastated northeastern region, Japan has never wavered from its steadfast commitment to help other countries around the world. So on this day when our thoughts and prayers are with the Japanese people in remembrance of the hardship faced one year ago, let us also celebrate the recovery underway in Japan and pay tribute to Japan’s unflagging dedication to bettering the lives of others throughout the world. The friendship and alliance between our two nations is unshakeable and, going forward, the people of Japan will continue to have an enduring partner in the United States.
On Sunday we will mark the first anniversary of the terrible disaster that shook an island, surged an ocean and cracked a reactor in the Tohoku region of Japan. As we remember the nearly 16,000 lives that were lost and the 3,000 still missing, we also honor the Japanese people, who over the past year have reminded the world that the human spirit is as formidable as the forces of nature, particularly when we join together in trying times.
I had the privilege of visiting Japan five months after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The survivors I met in Natori and Sendai made clear to me that the disaster met its match in the resilience and fortitude of the Japanese people. While struck by the scale of the devastation, I also witnessed remarkable and inspiring progress in rebuilding homes, schools, and workplaces.
The American people were proud and honored to assist Japan, just as Japan has done for countless others around the world, in their times of need. Within hours of the disaster, we launched an unprecedented civilian and military relief effort – Operation Tomodachi. In Sendai, I visited an airport that had been flooded and later became a home to more than 1,000 weary survivors with nowhere else to go. A week after the tsunami, Japanese and American forces reopened a runway, allowing the arrival of hundreds of relief workers and more than two million tons of humanitarian supplies.
We are proud to have continued our support over the past year. As Japan rebuilds, America will stand with them as long as it takes. We join the Japanese people today in honoring the memories of those lost as they continue to work for a better future.