As we approach the ten-year commemoration of the Great East Japan Earthquake, we are flooded with memories of the horror, and the initial hopelessness, of witnessing the unprecedented earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. Our minds flashback to the images of the devastation wrought by nature’s powerful earthquake and unimaginable tsunami. Those of us who had been in Japan can recall the uncertainty of the unfolding nuclear disaster and the endless violent aftershocks. Across the world, people came together to offer an outpouring of love, friendship and support to the victims of Tohoku and stood in global solidarity.
For our two nations, Operation Tomodachi showed us how special the U.S.-Japan bilateral relationship and our military alliance truly had become. For many organizations, responding to the 3.11 disaster created a new sense of purpose for our work in the U.S.-Japan relationship. And for many individuals, the passage through the 3.11 Triple Disaster set them on new personal trajectories as they felt the call to noble causes revealed during the long-term task of reconstruction and recovery.
Over the past decade, the people of Tohoku have rebuilt their communities. A new and vibrant, though still nascent, nonprofit sector of Japan has emerged. A new generation, the TOMODACHI Generation, of young people have built new ties between our two nations. Our two economies have become even more closely aligned, and we have addressed new challenges together, both bilateral and global. We have built on the goodwill created by Operation Tomodachi, and strengthened the U.S.-Japan relationship through the many people-to-people connections that make up its very foundation.
On Wednesday, March 10 (March 11 in Japan), let us come together and honor the memories of all those lost on, and in the wake of, the March 11, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Join the many U.S.-Japan organizations who have partnered to commemorate this tragic disaster by remembering the victims and reflecting on how much Japan, and especially the people of Tohoku, have overcome. By coming together again, we can recapture the spirit of kizuna and tomodachi that prevailed then, and that provided the basis for goodwill that set the course for a decade of ever stronger U.S.-Japan relations.
I am truly looking forward to being part of this special community and commemoration. I hope that you will join us as we recommit ourselves — as a community, as organizations, and as individuals — to honoring the victims of 3.11 through our continued support to the U.S.-Japan relationship and the next generation.
President & CEO, U.S.-Japan Council