United States Government Response to the Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan

(Updated March 20)

Immediately after the March 11 earthquake struck Japan, President Obama expressed America’s condolences: "The United States stands ready to help the Japanese people in this time of great trial. 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."

This factsheet builds on the March 19 update previously available.

Humanitarian Assistance

Aid pledged:

  • USAID - $8 million
  • Department of Defense - $35 million


The American search and rescue teams from Fairfax County, Virginia, and Los Angeles County, California have transferred nearly $145,000 in equipment to the Ofunato fire department to assist with local recovery efforts. This includes:

  • 4 zodiac boat kits—containing boats, motor, fuel tanks, and paddles
  • 16 kerosene heaters
  • 160 cots
  • 160 sleeping bags

USAID/OFDA sent 10,000 Personal Protective Equipment Kits by airlift for recovery efforts.

The Disaster Assistance Response Team continues to engage at three levels to determine any possible humanitarian needs in Japan: nationally through Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, locally at the prefecture level and in coordination with U.S. Forces-Japan, and through Japanese civil society organizations.The American search and rescue teams from Fairfax County, Virginia, and Los Angeles County, California have transferred nearly $145,000 in equipment to the Ofunato fire department to assist with local recovery efforts.

Department of Defense

The Department of Defense is actively providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in support of Operation Tomodachi.

  • 12,750 personnel are working to provide emergency support
  • 20 ships are providing assistance
  • 140 aircraft are flying relief missions
  • 110 tons of relief supplies have been delivered

U.S. forces have transported a total of 60,000 daily servings of food and water.

Marine Corps CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters from Marine Corps Air Station Futenma delivered blankets and more than 100 barrels of kerosene to the disaster area in Sendai.

353rd Special Operations Group, Special Operations Command from Kadena Air Base on Okinawa delivered supplies to Sendai, including children’s clothing and food.

Department of Energy

The Department of Energy has sent 39 experts and over 17,000 pounds of equipment to collect and share information with the Japanese government.

Support for Americans in Japan

Consular officers in Japan and Washington are working around the clock to gather information to assist American citizens in Japan. The U.S. Embassy continues to deploy consular assistance teams to locate American citizens, visit shelters, and help Americans get transportation away from affected areas.

The U.S. Embassy arranged for over 600 seats on several buses for transportation from Sendai to Tokyo. The Department of State has advised U.S. citizens to defer all travel to the evacuation zone around Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

The Department of State authorized the voluntary departure of eligible family members of U.S. government personnel in Tokyo, Nagoya, and Yokohama. The Department of State is making arrangements for flights to locations in East Asia for American citizens wishing to depart Japan.

U.S. citizens requiring emergency consular assistance should e-mail JapanEmergencyUSC@state.gov and monitor the U.S. Department of State website at travel.state.gov and the Embassy's website for updated information. For telephone inquiries, individuals may call 202-501-4444 or 1-888-407-4747. The Department of State's Travel Warning is also online here.

How to Support Relief Efforts

InterAction, an alliance of U. S.-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs), maintains a list of organizations accepting donations for the Japanese earthquake response at www.interaction.org.

The American Red Cross (AmRC) also receives donations through text messages of "redcross" sent to 90999.

USAID encourages cash donations because they allow aid professionals to procure the exact items needed; reduce the burden on scarce resources; can be transferred very quickly and without transportation costs; support the economy of the disaster-stricken region; and ensure culturally, dietary, and environmentally appropriate assistance.

Further Information