Japanese Minister Thanks U.S. Service Members

WASHINGTON, April 4, 2011 — Japan­ese Defense Min­is­ter Toshi­mi Kitaza­wa today board­ed the USS Ronald Rea­gan to thank U.S. ser­vice mem­bers for their help since a mag­ni­tude 9.0 earth­quake and the tsuna­mi it caused struck Japan on March 11.
The work of U.S. ser­vice mem­bers and oth­er Amer­i­cans is a tes­ta­ment to the half cen­tu­ry of tomodachi –- friend­ship — between the Unit­ed States and Japan, Kitaza­wa said as he shared a state­ment from Japan­ese Prime Min­is­ter Nao­to Kan.

Army Lt. Gen. Burton Field, commander of U.S. Forces Japan, and U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Navy Adm. Patrick Walsh
Japan­ese Defense Min­is­ter Toshi­mi Kitaza­wa views a ban­ner cre­at­ed by U.S. ser­vice mem­bers in hon­or of Oper­a­tion Tomodachi dur­ing his vis­it to the USS Ronald Rea­gan, April 4, 2011. Among those hold­ing the ban­ner are Army Lt. Gen. Bur­ton Field, com­man­der of U.S. Forces Japan, and U.S. Pacif­ic Fleet Com­man­der Navy Adm. Patrick Walsh.
U.S. Navy pho­to by Pet­ty Offi­cer 3rd Class Kyle Carl­strom
Click to enlarge

“To all U.S. mil­i­tary mem­bers, on behalf of the peo­ple of Japan, I sin­cere­ly express my deep appre­ci­a­tion for the tremen­dous sup­port pro­vid­ed by the U.S. mil­i­tary, the U.S. gov­ern­ment and the Amer­i­can peo­ple at a time of unprece­dent­ed cri­sis in Japan,” Kitaza­wa said.

The USS Ronald Rea­gan respond­ed imme­di­ate­ly after the dis­as­ter, and its sailors, as well as oth­er ser­vice mem­bers, con­tin­ue their human­i­tar­i­an mis­sion in Japan “with pride and pas­sion” and “are sup­port­ing Japan on an extra­or­di­nary scale,” he said.

As of March 25, more than 1,000 sailors and Marines were deployed in sup­port of Oper­a­tion Tomodachi and had flown more than 450 mis­sions for recov­ery, trans­port and sup­plies dis­tri­b­u­tion, accord­ing to the U.S. embassy offi­cials in Tokyo.

Kitaza­wa said he received a call from Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma right after the earth­quake, pledg­ing Amer­i­can sup­port.

“The entire Japan­ese peo­ple are deeply moved and encour­aged by scenes of U.S. mil­i­tary mem­bers work­ing hard in sup­port of relief efforts,” he said. “Those in Japan and the Unit­ed States are true tomodachi. … They share basic val­ues such as democ­ra­cy and respect for human rights.”

Faced with such a dis­as­ter, Kitaza­wa said, “in no time like the present do I feel so strong­ly about our friend­ship with the Unit­ed States. Your sup­port is a tes­ta­ment of our endur­ing bond for more than half a cen­tu­ry. Japan, with your con­tin­u­ous coop­er­a­tion, is deter­mined to launch a full-scale effort to over­come these chal­lenges ahead of us.”

U.S. Ambas­sador to Japan John V. Roos was part of the del­e­ga­tion that includ­ed senior Japan­ese mil­i­tary offi­cials aboard USS Ronald Rea­gan today.

“Look­ing out over this spec­tac­u­lar view, in front of all you great Amer­i­cans, I am awed to be here, and I can’t tell you how deeply moved I am by all you’ve accom­plished in the last sev­er­al weeks,” he said.

Roos offered U.S. con­do­lences to the Japan­ese, not­ing that he saw the disaster’s effects first­hand in north­east­ern Japan. “One can­not even begin to imag­ine the dev­as­ta­tion until you wit­ness it your­self,” he said, “and even then it’s hard to imag­ine.

“I met with peo­ple who lost almost every­thing in their lives, includ­ing their loved ones,” he con­tin­ued. “I could not help but be moved by their calm dig­ni­ty and resilient spir­it.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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