U.S. Government Response to the Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan

(Updated March 22, 2011)

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 fact sheet builds on the March 19 update available online here.

Humanitarian Assistance


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.

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

10,000 Personal Protective Equipment Kits (suits, masks, gloves, decontamination bags and other supplies) have arrived in Japan and will be distributed to Self Defense Forces in Fukushima.

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.

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
    • 227 tons of relief supplies have been delivered
  • U.S. Forces were instrumental in re-opening Sendai Airport for relief aid. The first planes to arrive with water and goodwill supplies were Marine Corps aircraft from Futenma and Iwakuni.
    • U.S. forces have transported more than 60,000 daily servings of food and water.
    • Helicopters from Marine Corps Air Station Futenma have delivered hundreds of blankets and barrels of kerosene to the disaster area in Sendai.
    • Troops from Kadena Air Base on Okinawa continue to deliver supplies to Sendai, including children’s clothing and food.
    • Aerial reconnaissance missions also continue to search for displaced people and take photographs that are being shared with the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force.

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.

FY 2011 Humanitarian Funding Provided to Japan to Date

USAID/OFDA Assistance for the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami $7,210,614
DoD Humanitarian Assistance for the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami $16,100,000
Total USAID and DoD Assistance for the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami $23,310,614

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 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.
  • 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 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