Japanese, U.S. Dignitaries, Military Leaders Thank Service Members (Transcript)
Senior leaders from Japan and the U.S. expressed their appreciation for the work of U.S. military men and women supporting disaster response in Japan during an April 4 visit to USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).
The remarks of Japan's Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa, who also relayed a message from Prime Minister Naoto Kan; U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos; and Adm. Patrick Walsh, commander of Joint Support Force, are transcribed below.
Prime Minister’s Message on U.S. Military Support (Provisional translation)
To All U.S. Military Members and everyone involved in Operation Tomodachi,
On behalf of the people of Japan, I sincerely express deep appreciation to the tremendous support provided by the U.S. military, the U.S. government and the American people at the time of Japan’s unprecedented crisis.
Immediately after the disaster, USS Ronald Reagan rushed to the Sanriku area. Currently, ground, navy, air and marine forces, with high pride and passion, are supporting disaster relief efforts at an extraordinary scale. I personally received from President Obama, words of warm and strong pledge of support for Japan. Not only the victims of the disaster hit areas, but also the entire Japanese people are deeply moved and encouraged by the scenes of U.S. military members working hard to support the relief efforts.
Both Japan and the United States are true “TOMODACHI” that share basic values such as democracy and respect for human rights. Faced with such a massive disaster, no time like the present that I feel so strongly about our friendship with the United States. Swift and strong support provided by your country is testament of the enduring bond that the Japan-U.S. Alliance has fostered for over a half a century.
Japan, with your continuous cooperation, is determined to launch full-scale efforts to overcome the challenges ahead of us. Again, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to all of your tremendous support and friendship.
Naoto Kan, Prime Minister of Japan
Defense Minister’s Message on U.S. Military Support (Provisional translation)
Please allow me, at the outset, to express my heartfelt appreciation and admiration to each and every U.S. service member that came to the aid of the victims of the March 11 Great Tohoku-Kanto Disaster. The incredible support that you are providing are touching the victims that are still suffering from a feeling of great loss and sorrow. No time like the present have I’ve felt the United States, our ally, as a reliable partner, and have I felt so proud of our alliance with the United States.
The United States Forces has extended assistance to the disaster hit areas in various ways. For instance, you are helping to clean up schools that are covered by mud by the Tsunami, so that the students can come back for the new school year. Your warm help will be cherished and engraved in the hearts and soul of the Japanese people. More than three weeks have passed since the disaster. Our humanitarian and disaster relief efforts are about to transition to a phase to a mid to long term activities focused on rehabilitation and reconstruction.
It is my sincere wish that those of you who will depart from the relief efforts to assume a new mission, to leave with a feeling of utmost pride, for taking part in a noble operation such as Operation Tomodachi. And for those of you who will continue to provide assistance, I again wish to express my deepest appreciation for your contribution.
Disaster can destroy human life and property, but it cannot destroy the human spirit. This is what Ambassador Roos said when he visited the disaster hit elementary school, Watanoha, in Ishinomaki City. The Ambassador’s remark will be long remembered in the history of Japan-U.S. relations as a message that tied the hearts and souls of the survivors and their lost loved ones.
In closing, I would like to say that the on going Japan-U.S. joint relief operation in tackling this unprecedented crisis that our country is now facing, will be long remembered in the memories of both the Japanese and American people. I am convinced that our joint efforts today will lead to further deepening of the Japan-U.S. Alliance.
Toshimi Kitazawa, Defense Minister of Japan
U.S. Ambassador to Japan's Remarks on U.S. Military Support
Let me start by just saying, looking out over this spectacular view in front of all of you great Americans, I am awed to be here and I can’t tell you how deeply moved I am by all that you have accomplished in the last several weeks.
On behalf of the United States of America, let me begin by offering my deepest condolences to the people of Japan for the losses that you have so dearly suffered as the result of the unprecedented disasters that struck your country beginning on March 11th. I recently travelled to Miyagi prefecture to some of the areas that were struck by the tsunami and the earthquake. As most of you know here today, one cannot even begin to imagine the extent of the devastation until you witness it for yourself and even then it’s hard to fathom. In Inshinomaki, I met with a people who lost almost everything in their lives, including their loved ones. But I also could not help but be moved, as I’m sure many of you have been over the last few weeks, by their calm dignity and resilient spirit. Included among the thousands of precious Japanese lives lost in the tsunami, was a young twenty-four year old American English teacher, Taylor Anderson.
Last week, Taylor’s father told me that the Anderson family was going to find a way to contribute to rebuilding the community in which Taylor lived and loved so much, because that is what she would have wanted in some way to help the kids who she taught for three years. And it is that fabric of friendship between our two countries, represented by each one of you here today, that brings our two countries together.
Today, we stand together, Japan and the United States, side-by-side on the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan as friends who over the last three and a half weeks have worked together day and night to uplift this great country from the horrific devastation. We pause to acknowledge the great work we’ve done, you on this deck have done, but we also acknowledge the long road ahead.
As Americans, we are all proud to have played, even a small role to support our Japanese friends in their great time in need. So often, we have watched the Japanese play a leadership role around the world in responding to calls for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. This time, the United States and the world has come to support Japan. As we look forward, the United States and Japan will adjust to the needs of the critical work required to rebuild Japan, but our efforts will not diminish. As you, our Japanese friends, continue to work to face the multitude of challenges your great nation faces now and will continue to face in the weeks, months and years ahead, please never, never forget that our country will be here for you, whenever you need us, where ever you need us. Thank you all so much for all you have done. I am so proud of you as an American. Thank you and now let me call upon Minister Kitazawa once again, who it has been my honor and privilege to work with over the last few years. Thank you.
U. S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos
Joint Support Force Commander's Remarks on U.S. Military Support
Mr. Defense Minister, you have given us a day to remember. And for the men and women who have participated in this operation, it’s a memory that will last for a life time. And for the men and women of Ronald Reagan, I ask that you think about what you are seeing today and hearing today. The men behind me have not rested in three weeks. They are a team that represents the very best in humanity. All of them bear the burden, that there is no rotation, that they will see this through the end.
Defense Minister Kitazawa, on behalf of the men and women of the United States armed forces who have served in Operation Tomodachi, thank you for honoring us with your time, your presence, and your remarks today. By any measure, the actions that the Japanese Self-Defense Force have taken, the work that they have done, has been heroic and earned the gratitude and the respect of colleagues from around the world. It has been an honor to work with you and to call you our friends. Ronald Reagan, thank you and you make us all proud. Thank you.
Commander, Joint Support Force, Adm. Patrick Walsh