News / Asia

US Military Sends Ships, Aircraft to Japan Relief Effort

US sailors help remove debris during a cleanup effort at Japan's Misawa Fishing Port on March 14, 2011.
US sailors help remove debris during a cleanup effort at Japan's Misawa Fishing Port on March 14, 2011.

The U.S. Navy has 14 ships off the coast of Japan, providing humanitarian assistance to victims of last week's earthquake and tsunami, and a command ship is expected in the area on Thursday. Some of the thousands of U.S. troops stationed in Japan are also involved in the relief effort.

At Japan's request, U.S. ships and their aircraft have delivered some 2,000 kilograms of food to the victims.  In all, there have been more than 200 flights by U.S. helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.  In addition, American surveillance planes, including an advanced unmanned Global Hawk aircraft, are assessing the damage and looking for survivors.

Related video report by Elizabeth Lee


One U.S. ship picked up 273 Japanese troops and 93 of their vehicles in Hokkaido and is transporting them to the disaster zone. The ships are also serving as refueling stations for Japanese relief helicopters.  

Two fire trucks were sent from a U.S. base to help fight fires at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.  They are being operated by Japanese crews.  The U.S. military provided additional hoses and water pumps for the effort on Thursday, and special high powered pumps were delivered to Yokota Air Base for transfer to the Japanese government.

The Pentagon says 2,200 U.S. Marines are heading for the city of Sendai to help clean up the Japanese military airport there. In all, some 17,000 U.S. sailors and Marines at sea are involved in the mission, plus thousands of airmen and soldiers stationed at several bases in Japan.

But Pentagon Spokesman Marine Corps Colonel David Lapan says there has been no request for help dealing directly with the damaged Fukushima nuclear facility. “We have, in the military, all types of capabilities from equipment to trained personnel.  But it all goes back to a request from the government of Japan for assistance.  And we just have not gotten that at this point,” he said.

There are nuclear power experts on two U.S. aircraft carriers in the region.  But Lapan says they have not been called on to help.  U.S. civilian agencies are consulting with the Japanese government about the nuclear contamination threat.  

Lapan says U.S. military personnel have been told to stay 80 kilometers away from the Fukushima plant -- the same distance recommended by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for American civilians.  That is four times the 20 kilometer Japanese evacuation zone.  

Still, Colonel Lapan says U.S. troops could be sent closer to the power plant, if Japan asks for help. “We’re talking about the United States military.  We train and equip all of our people to operate in all kinds of environments.  So we know how to measure.  We know how to test.  We know how to respond.  We know how to take precautions -- all of those things.”

Several thousand U.S. troops were exposed to slightly elevated radiation levels when a U.S. aircraft carrier passed through a contamination cloud east of Japan earlier this week.  That ship and several others moved to a safer area to the north.  Some of the other U.S. ships are positioned off of Japan's west coast, away from the contamination but within range for relief flights.

Seventeen members of U.S. air crews had to be decontaminated and were given potassium iodide after flying close to the nuclear plant.  Lapan says that now, U.S. air crews scheduled to fly within 112 kilometers of the damaged nuclear power plant are being given the drug in advance, as a precaution.  Potassium iodide helps protect the thyroid gland from the increased risk of cancer as a result of exposure to higher than normal levels of radiation.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor 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.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More