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

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs