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The One-Year Anniversary of 3/11

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. KERRY. Madam President, yesterday the world marked the anniversary of the triple tragedy--the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis--that struck Japan on March 11 of last year. I rise today to commemorate that heartbreaking day for our good friend and ally and to pay tribute to the remarkable resilience of the Japanese people in the face of this unprecedented series of catastrophic events. Even as Japan labors to rebuild devastated regions in the northeast, it continues to make enormous contributions to the international community, so let's take this moment to acknowledge the ambitious reconstruction effort underway in Japan and its indispensable role in world affairs.

Any one of these three events--a magnitude 9.0 earthquake that destroyed entire towns and villages, a tsunami that swept away thousands, and the ensuing nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant--would have been enough to overwhelm and paralyze any country, any government. To have all three occur at the same time simply strains the imagination. Yet the Japanese Government and the Japanese people responded to these events with their characteristic resilience, both in the immediate aftermath when local first responders and Japan's Self-Defense Forces responded so heroically in the face of almost unimaginable destruction and today in rebuilding shattered lives and communities by seeking new opportunities for economic growth and innovation, including through new green energy initiatives.

And if there is a silver lining to the tragic events of 3/11, it is that the U.S.-Japan alliance once more proved its own strength and vitality, demonstrating the deep bonds of friendship and affection that tie our two nations together. Together, we launched the largest joint military operation in our history, with more than 20,000 Americans supporting the Japan Self-Defense Forces in Operation Tomodachi. The Department of Defense alone provided 24,000 personnel, 190 aircraft, and 24 Navy ships to assist with humanitarian and disaster relief operations. To this day, our country's joint efforts continue through public-private partnerships for reconstruction and through the TOMODACHI initiative. This program, spearheaded by our Ambassador to Japan--and my good friend--John Roos, is focused on partnerships and programs to empower Japan's next generation and to strengthen ties between Americans and Japanese.

Madam President, nations and relationships between nations often display their truest colors during times of stress, challenge, and tragedy. As we look back at the events of a year ago and pause in remembrance of those who lost their lives, let's also give thanks for the strength, health, and vitality of the partnership between the United States and Japan.


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