Two years ago, Japan endured unimaginable disaster following the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis of March 11, 2011. As we remember the tragic events surrounding the Great East Japan Earthquake, and mourn the victims, we also recall that the world marveled at the resiliency and dignity of the Japanese people as they worked to overcome the tragedy. Over the past two years, Japan has made steady progress in its recovery and rebuilding efforts -- and I'm pleased that the United States has been able to play a role in this process.
The partnership between the United States and Japan is built on the bedrock of our shared values, and one of those values is that we help each other in times of need. Just as Japan came to our aid after disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, we in the United States did not hesitate to lend a helping hand to Japan after March 11. The seamless cooperation between the U.S. military and the Japanese Self-Defense Forces during "Operation Tomodachi" -- named after the Japanese word for "friend" -- helped tens of thousands of people, and demonstrated to the world the deep and enduring strength of the U.S.-Japan Alliance for peace. Looking forward, our "TOMODACHI Initiative" is a public-private partnership that continues the same spirit of friendship by increasing bilateral exchange between young Americans and Japanese.
Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with those who lost loved ones. While observing this sad anniversary, we also recall and renew the deep bonds of friendship that connect us across the Pacific Ocean.