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

(Updated April 4, 2011)

On March 28, the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Dr. Gregory Jaczko, traveled to Tokyo to convey directly to his Japanese counterparts a message of support and cooperation, and to assess the current situation.

Following his meetings with senior Japanese government and TEPCO officials, Chairman Jaczko said, "Our nuclear experts are working closely with their Japanese counterparts, and we both continue to share expert analysis as we move forward to address this challenge. I reconfirmed in my meetings that we are prepared to provide any assistance we can in the days to come." He further added, "The unprecedented challenge before us remains serious and our best experts remain fully engaged to help Japan address the situation."

The following day, President Obama spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan from Air Force One, their third telephone conversation since the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan on March 11. The President reiterated that the United States is determined to support the people of Japan in their efforts to deal with the devastating effects of this tragedy, both in the short and the long term. The two leaders reaffirmed the importance of close U.S.-Japanese cooperation in dealing with the ongoing nuclear emergency.

In a letter from President Obama to the Emperor of Japan, the President said: “The United States has put all available means of support at Japan’s disposal, and countless American citizens and organizations have also reached out to help. I speak for all Americans in expressing admiration for the courage, strength, and determination with which the people of Japan are responding to this crisis. I have every confidence that Japan will rebound from this tragedy even stronger than before and set an example for other nations through your resilience. As the people of Japan recover and rebuild, the United States will stand steadfast by your side as a friend, partner, and ally.”

This fact sheet builds on the March 28 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.

  • With Sendai airport reopened for military flights, and with all known groups of isolated persons now being serviced from JSDF and U.S. forces ashore, the 7th Fleet’s focus has shifted to harbor clearance and consolidation of remaining relief supplies ashore in Misawa and Sendai for distribution from those points.
  • At the ports of Miyako and Oshima, Navy teams are working with the JSDF and local authorities to clear those harbors, using side scan sonar to survey the ports.
  • 7th Fleet ships, helicopters and aircraft searched over 2,000 square miles of ocean in a concerted effort to find victims of the March 11 tsunami.
  • Since Operation Tomodachi began, 7th Fleet forces have delivered more than 260 tons of relief supplies to earthquake/tsunami survivors and flown 160 aerial reconnaissance and search sorties.
  • Army soldiers from Okinawa continue to assist Marines in removing damaged vehicles and large debris from the Sendai airport parking lots and hangars.


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.

USG Funding Announced and Committed To Date

USAID/OFDA Assistance $6,825,286
Department of Defense (DoD) Humanitarian Assistance $62,934,092
Total USAID and DoD Assistance for the Earthquake and Tsunami $69,759,378

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.

More information on contributing is available from USAID. (PDF 99KB)

Further Information