News / Asia

    US Military Plays Key Role in Post-Tsunami Clean-Up

    A U.S. Marine (R) and members of the Japan Self Defense Force clear tsunami debris at an elementary school in Ishinomaki, northern Japan, April 3, 2011.
    A U.S. Marine (R) and members of the Japan Self Defense Force clear tsunami debris at an elementary school in Ishinomaki, northern Japan, April 3, 2011.
    Martyn Williams

    As Japan faces the monumental task of cleaning up after the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the role that troops and, particularly U.S. forces, are playing is in the forefront.

    Three weeks after the devastating tsunami that destroyed thousands of homes in the small community of Ishinomaki, the Minato elementary school is still a mess.

    A thick layer of mud covers the yard, smashed and crushed cars lie all around, and a mountain of debris from inside the school is waiting to be removed.

    This day, that job falls upon the U.S. Marine Corps.

    Captain Adan Maldonado is one of a small group of U.S. soldiers working to help the school take a further step towards recovery.

    "We're in the third day of 'Operation Field Day', in which the Marines and soldiers of Task Force Fuji are coming out with heavy equipment to clean up the school yard at Minato elementary school," he says. "Yesterday, we came out with about 312 backpacks for ages of infant all the way up to 18 years of age and we had trinkets and clothing and candies, and those came from the girl scouts at Camp Zama."

    The U.S. government pledged full support to Japan on the day of the disaster. Much of the subsequent work has fallen on the U.S. military, which has 38,000 personnel permanently stationed in Japan.

    Video of US military efforts in Japan

    Under the banner of "Operation Tomodachi," the Japanese word for friend, the U.S. military has brought in more than 260 tons of relief supplies, flown 160 aerial sorties, and searched over 5,000 square kilometers of ocean looking for survivors.

    It has also cleared the tsunami-hit Sendai airport so relief supplies can be flown directly into the disaster region.

    The U.S. military is working alongside the Japanese Self Defense Forces, as Captain Maldonado explains.

    "Essentially, we're in a supporting role of the JGSDF, so anything they ask for help, we're right there with them to support as soon as possible. The people have been very receptive, lots of 'hi's, hellos, thank yous'," Maldonado says.

    On Monday, the United States military got the biggest thank you yet, from Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa.

    Minister Kitazawa said the Japanese government and people express their deep appreciation for the work of the United States military and Operation Tomodachi. He added he has never been more encouraged and proud that the United States is Japan's ally.

    Japan's Self Defense Forces, under Kitazawa, have a presence of some 100,000 in the region. Ground Self Defense Force Colonel Shohei Abe says they are working on a variety of missions.

    "Search and recovery of the dead bodies, life support like transporting food and water, and also debris removal in the public facility," says the colonel.

    It is not all grim work. The military is also working to make the lives of evacuees just a little bit more bearable.

    Across the river from the Ishinomaki elementary school, steam rises into the cold air from several large, green tents. These are shower units, installed by Japanese troops to help the city that is still largely without gas.

    And from the mud and rubble of the Ishinomaki elementary school, an impromptu concert by the 5th band of the Ground Self Defense Forces brought work to a standstill at lunchtime Saturday.

    Perhaps, just for a minute, it helped people to forget the disaster that has taken over their lives.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora