As Japan commemorates the tenth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake on 3/11, our hearts go out to the people of Tohoku . Each time I visited the region , I met people who had lost so much - people they loved, their homes, livliehoods, and memories and but they never lost their faith in each other , or their commitment to building a better future for their communities.
During the three years I served as US Ambassador, the reconstruction efforts made great progress. Every visit renewed my hope in a brighter future. Although we can never bring back those we have lost, the people of the Tohoku region have inspired the world with their courage and resilience. Now that the world is experiencing the tragedy of COVID-19, those lessons are more important than ever.
The tragedy of 3/11 drew the United States and Japan even closer – as friends and allies. US military service members told me that Operation Tomodachi changed their lives – it deepened their desire to help those in need , and to strengthen the bonds between our countries, while Japanese citizens often told me how grateful they were to have the United States as their” friend in deed “.
These bonds of the heart will last forever. Americans join in offering our prayers for the souls of those that were lost. We pray that the memory of this great tragedy will renew our commitment to creating a better future. We know that the leaders of our two great nations can always draw upon the friendship between our peoples as they work to make a more peaceful, safe and secure world.