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March 10, 2011

World Leaders Offer Sympathy, Assistance to Quake-Ravaged Japan

by Meredith Buel

Many world leaders are expressing shock and sympathy following the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and are offering to assist the country as it struggles to recover from the disaster.

U.S. President Barack Obama pledged assistance for what he called a potentially catastrophic disaster in Japan.

The president called Japan one of America’s strongest allies and said the U.S. is offering whatever assistance is needed. "We currently have an aircraft carrier in Japan and another is on its way. We also have a ship en route to the Marianas Islands to assist as needed. The Defense Department is working to account for all our military personnel in Japan."

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said a preliminary assessment indicates that American troops, ships and military facilities were not seriously damaged by the quake or tsunami.  

Gates says the military, which has enormous assets in the Pacific, is ready to assist in rescue and recovery efforts. "It's obviously a very sophisticated country, but this is a huge disaster and we will do all, anything we are asked to do to help out."

The U.S. military newspaper Stars and Stripes  is reporting a carrier group led by the USS Ronald Reagan  was diverted to Japan as it sailed toward South Korea for military exercises.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, arriving in Brussels for a European summit, sent his sympathies and condolences to the Japanese people. "We have had a terrible reminder of the destructive power of nature and everyone should be thinking of that country and their people and I have asked immediately that our government should look at what we can do to help”"

Also in Brussels, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said his country stands ready to help the Japanese people. "I think it is the worst earthquake and tsunami that they have seen in Japan for 140 years and a lot of people are now killed, and there will be huge human effects to this. We should do anything in our power to listen in if we can support the Japanese people."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy also offered his country’s assistance, saying France is planning to send planes and other resources to assist in Japan.

Sarkozy told reporters the images of the disaster have stirred great emotions in France and said his government is prepared to send teams of aid workers to help in what he called a catastrophe that apparently is without precedent.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in televised remarks that high tsunami waves have reached his country’s territory and Moscow is ready to help Japan recover. He also said Russia is ready to help its neighbors cope with the aftermath of the earthquake and he has ordered the Russian emergencies minister to submit proposals for assistance.

The United Nations says it is ready to send expert teams to Japan to assist in search and rescue efforts.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised Japan as a nation known for helping other countries in need of emergency assistance. "Japan is one of the most generous and strongest benefactors, coming to the assistance of those in need the world over. In that spirit, the United Nations stands by the people of Japan and we will do anything and everything we can at this very difficult time."

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao also expressed deep sympathy for the Japanese people and officials from China’s Earthquake Administration told the Xinhua news agency that rescuers are prepared to travel to those areas affected by the quake.