Statement to the Media by Ambassador John V. Roos

U.S. Embassy
March 12, 2011
Tokyo, Japan

Good evening, everybody and thank you so much for being here tonight. Before I begin, I would just like to ask everyone to observe a moment of silence for the victims of this terrible tragedy.

This evening I am joined by some of the key members of my team: Lieutenant General Burt Field, Commander, U.S. Forces Japan; Captain Justin Cooper, our Defense Attaché here at the Embassy; John Beed, USAID Counselor; and, Consul General Paul Fitzgerald.

It goes without saying that we feel great sorrow, and our hearts go out to the people of Japan and to all of those who have been affected by the events of the last few days.  Japan is our close ally and partner. President Obama spoke with Prime Minister Kan soon after the earthquake.  On behalf of the American people, he conveyed our deepest condolences, especially to the victims and their families, and offered our Japanese friends whatever assistance is needed.  I have been in constant contact with our government in Washington and the government here in Japan, including during this evolving situation with the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The United States is absolutely committed to helping Japan in any way possible to respond to and recover from the tragedy of the past few days and as Japan continues to deal with its effects.

Let me provide you with some information with regard to the current efforts of the United States.

First, let me take a moment to address American citizens here in Japan with regard to which we attach the highest priority. At this point, we have received no confirmed reports -- thank God -- of U.S. citizens killed or seriously injured. Our Embassy and our five consulates in Japan are working to obtain information on the status of all United States citizens and to provide assistance as necessary.

We know that many people are worried about the welfare of their friends and families who are here in Japan.  We understand also that some telephone landlines have been interrupted.  Of course, we are recommending that people continue to contact loved ones here in Japan by email, text, SMS message, or social media.

The State Department also has established a consular Task Force that will be responding to concerns about specific U.S. citizens in Japan.  People may email the taskforce at  And I’ll repeat that,

Our consular officers in the Embassy and consulates have been responding around the clock to inquiries. This is something that they are trained to do very well, and all American citizens should feel free to utilize their services. They are also reaching out to the American citizen community, trying to push out information about what to do and what the Japanese authorities are also making available.

For additional information for American citizens in Japan, please check the State Department website. For information on the advisability of travel to Japan at this time, please continue to check the same website. The Embassy has also distributed to registered American citizens warden messages updating them on current conditions as we’re able to obtain current information. The same information is being posted at our website. I am personally getting as much information out as possible on my Twitter account.

We urge American citizens in Japan to follow the instructions of Japanese civil defense authorities.

I’d like to talk a little bit now about the military assistance we are providing.

In response to Japanese government requests for assistance, U.S. military forces are mobilizing to conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts throughout Japan.  The Japan Self-Defense Forces are among the most prepared and capable in the world in dealing with a disaster response situation, and the U.S. military is prepared to augment their efforts with all available assets and equipment upon request.

Because of the longstanding and close working relationship between the U.S. military and its Japanese counterparts on a daily basis, the United States military has humanitarian assistance capabilities positioned in the affected regions that are ready to support emergency relief efforts and minimize human suffering.

U.S. military assets include a wide range of equipment, air, sea, and ground capability and expertise.  Initial actions which have been undertaken by the U.S. military include the following:

  • Yokota Air Base was instrumental in recovering airline traffic in the hours immediately following the earthquake.
  • We immediately moved U.S. Air Force and Marine helicopter and transport aircraft from Okinawa to our U.S. military bases on Honshu.
  • The USS Ronald Reagan was heading east and was immediately turned around to support our efforts here in Japan. They arrive tonight.
  • We are moving Marine command and control units ready to work with Japan’s Self-Defense Forces to coordinate our efforts on the ground.
  • We have units from all of our services, with a multitude of capabilities, from medical to communications to civil engineering poised and ready to support where needed.

The bottom line: our military is working closely with their Japanese counterparts to support where requested and needed.

The U.S. military’s response, though, is part of a broader U.S. government support to Japan’s request for humanitarian assistance.  This effort includes coordination by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development, in constant consultation with Japanese authorities and the U.S. Pacific Command.

USAID immediately deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team to Japan to respond to the humanitarian crisis in collaboration with the Government of Japan.  In addition, USAID activated a Washington, D.C.-based Response Management Team to support the USAID/Disaster Assistance Response Team and coordinate the U.S. government humanitarian response.  In accordance with a request from the Government of Japan, USAID mobilized and deployed two maximum level Urban Search and Rescue teams numbering more than 150 personnel. The teams have highly advanced capacities for providing hazardous material detection, emergency medical care, and water rescue assistance.

Finally, with regard to the Fukushima nuclear power plant specifically, our nuclear experts are directly in touch with Japanese experts, and we are offering our full assistance, in addition to our military and other assistance I just described, in any way we can with this ongoing situation.

The situation here in Japan is obviously still very fluid, and we are closely monitoring developments. We will of course update you as we learn more about the various aspects of this situation. But I want to be absolutely clear: the United States of America will support our close friend, our partner, and our ally in any way we can in the difficult days, weeks, and months ahead.

Thank you very much.