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

(Updated March 28, 2011)

On March 23, Ambassador John V. Roos, U.S. Pacific Command Commander Admiral Robert F. Willard, and USAID/OFDA Director Mark Bartolini traveled to the area devastated by the tsunami. They met with Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Lieutenant General Kimizuka and U.S. forces to discuss American support for disaster relief efforts. Ambassador Roos offered condolences to Ishinomaki City Mayor Kameyama and told survivors staying at Watanoha Elementary School, a temporary relief shelter for 1,200 people: "We are here to help ... We will be here for you today, tomorrow, in the months and years to come."

In a visit to the Japanese Embassy in Washington on March 22, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: "It's our honor to stand with Japan. Japan's generosity to people around the world is so well known. In the midst of disasters large and small, we see the assistance that comes from the government and people of Japan. And there has been an outpouring of support now in your time of need, and it is a great symbol of our friendship, partnership, and alliance that the United States is with you and will be there."

This fact sheet builds on the March 25 update.

Humanitarian Assistance

Department of Defense

The Department of Defense is actively providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in support of Operation Tomodachi, which means "friends" in Japanese.

  • On the island of Oshima off the coast of Kessennuma, the USS Essex delivered a commercial electrical utility vehicle, water supply and generator vehicles, a fuel truck, and a 23-person work crew to conduct utility repairs. Oshima's utilities and ferry service were destroyed in the earthquake and tsunami. In addition, 15,000 pounds of relief supplies were delivered, including water, food, health and hygienic items such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrushes.
  • Over the past three days, divers from the USNS Safeguard worked with the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) to open the Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) pier and other areas of Hachinohe harbor. An LNG tanker has already docked and delivered much needed fuel for thousands of displaced people living in shelters without electricity or heat.
  • Navy teams are working with the Japan Self Defense Force (JSDF) and local authorities to coordinate similar efforts in the ports of Miyako, Kamaishi and Ofunato to remove debris and other navigational hazards.
  • Two barges containing 500,000 gallons of fresh water from the U.S. Navy base in Yokosuka have arrived in Onahana, where the water will be used to replace the sea water that was used for emergency cooling of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.


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 Energy
Department of Health and Human Services
Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Experts from the NRC, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. military are cooperating directly with Japanese authorities to help contain the damage at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Humanitarian Funding Provided to Japan to Date

According to UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as of March 24, the United States has given more than $32 million to the humanitarian effort in Japan - the most of any government and second only to private individuals and organizations.

USG Funding Announced and Committed To Date

USAID/OFDA Assistance $7,291,550
Department of Defense (DoD) Humanitarian Assistance $24,960,294
Total USAID and DoD Assistance for the Earthquake and Tsunami $32,251,844

Department of State - 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 deployed consular assistance teams around the Tohoku region, where they worked with local authorities to locate U.S. citizens, visited shelters and assistance centers, and helped U.S. citizens identify public and commercial transportation options 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.
  • For the latest U.S. Government information on the situation in Japan, as well as the Department of State's Travel Warning, please go to the Department of State's Consular Affairs website - travel.state.gov.

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