The U.S. military are Japan’s “friends”

29 Mar

Since the 2011 March 11 earthquake that struck 東北地方 (the Tohoku Region of Japan), the overseas media have reported extensively on Japanese manners and the excellent rescue and repair work conducted by the Japanese…especially those willing to risk their lives.

But with a disaster of this scale it goes without saying that Japan needs help. And people from all over the world have been extremely kind and generous. Immediately after the tsunami destroyed the lives of so many in the Sendai area, rescue teams and donations came to help from many countries.

I saw a news report on TV here in Japan that focused on the U.S. military’s relief assistance in Sendai and Fukushima.

The U.S. military has a number of bases in various parts of Japan and the Japanese people understand the sacrifices that those in the military make and most of the Japanese people appreciate the protection that the U.S. military gives to Japan by having bases here.
But it’s a bit of a perennial problem in Japan. The U.S. bases take up valuable land in this small country, there have been a number of crimes, sometimes violent ones, committed by American servicemen stationed here, and some of the bases are for the Air Force and have noisy jets flying overheard all day everyday which greatly disturbs the people who live in the vicinity.

But since America has sent over 18,000 American service-people from the bases around Japan to help with the rescue and rebuilding of the Sendai area and also helping to cool down the nuclear plant in Fukushima, the people of Japan have seen the U.S. military at their best.
And they’re quite good!

The U.S. military has named the work they’re doing 「友だち作戦」 (“Operation: Tomodachi”).
「友だち」 (“Tomodachi“) is Japanese for “friends“.

They have a patch on their sleeve of the Japanese flag with the Japanese character 「」 which says “friend” in Japanese. And 「がんばろう日本」 which means “We can do it, Japan!“.

The TV news program I saw showed the U.S. Marines giving bottled water, food and blankets to the people left with nothing since the tsunami. But it also showed them giving American candy and toys to the children who lost everything they own. Toys and chocolate may seem unimportant…unless you saw the big smiles of those children. It was very heartwarming and thoughtful of the Marines to remember to bring something for those kids.

But the most impressive things I saw the U.S. Marines do in that report was when they quickly restored electricity to a town that was without power since the earthquake two weeks ago. And also, the Sendai Airport was such a mess and covered with so much debris since the tsunami that the Japanese authorities believed it would take too long to clear the runways for the airport to be of any use to bring much needed relief to the city…but the Marines got busy clearing the mess as soon as they arrived in Sendai and later the same day, the runways were cleared enough to be used!

Even the people who would like the U.S. military to not be stationed in Japan are extremely impressed and grateful for their help!
Thank you U.S. military. You really are a 「友だち」 (tomodachi)!

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24 Responses to “The U.S. military are Japan’s “friends””

  1. Anonymous April 16, 2011 at 6:18 pm #

    The Marines have done a great job on restoring the Sendai area and are invaluable in distributing aid and clean-up but it was the Air Force who arrived on the 16th of March to survey, mark and land aircraft on the runways at Sendai Airport. Again, I’m not taking anything away from the Marines, Army and Navy at Sendai. I’m just giving a little love to the Air Force.

    Like

    • tokyo5 April 16, 2011 at 11:19 pm #

      Yes, all branches of the U.S. military did a lot to help the people affected by this disaster and Japan is grateful.

      Coincidentally, yesterday some people in Sendai wrote the word “ARIGATO” (“Thank you”) in the sand on the beach for the U.S. Air Force to see.

      Like

  2. dj_kenshin April 2, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    We are helping sending helo’s in the Sendai area. We have shipped as much as we could and have had two separate refils of supplies, blankets, food, water and more. I just wish there was more that we could do!

    Like

    • tokyo5 April 2, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

      >We are helping sending helo’s in the Sendai area.

      Are you with the U.S. military? Where are you stationed?

      >I just wish there was more that we could do!

      With so much help, life will go back to normal soon…I hope.

      Like

  3. Old Marine March 30, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    My father, USA – Sargeant First Class, trained infintry and served with them during the entire Pacific Campaign, from New Guinea to Japan. He was among the fortunate who received only minor wounds, and continued on. My Dad was a warrior in the truest sense … disciplined, courageous, tenacious, and honorable. He saw the horrors of war first hand, and took many lives in the process of winning that war. But, when the war ended, and he was among the initial occupying American Forces in Japan, he left those battles behind, and embraced the severely suffering, Japanese citizens, understanding they were among the greatest victims of the war. During my enlistment in the Marine Corps, while in Vietnam, I constantly remembered my Dad, and tried to be a credit to him. Semper Fidelis

    Like

    • tokyo5 March 31, 2011 at 12:20 am #

      You and your father sound like excellent Marines. Like the ones I described in this post.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Like

  4. Cloudia March 30, 2011 at 10:34 am #

    thank you for this extraordinary report!

    Aloha to you
    from Honolulu!

    Comfort Spiral

    >

    >

    Like

    • tokyo5 March 31, 2011 at 12:17 am #

      >thank you for this extraordinary report!

      Thank you for the kind words. Please visit and comment often.

      Like

  5. musings March 30, 2011 at 2:46 am #

    It’s so wonderful to know that our military is in there doing such great humanitarian work. I really appreciate you writing about this and I’m glad Gigi posted a link to your blog. I have relative in Sendai and Tokyo and it’s a continuing worry.

    Like

    • tokyo5 March 31, 2011 at 12:16 am #

      >I have relative in Sendai and Tokyo and it’s a continuing worry.

      You have relatives in Sendai? Are they OK?

      Like

      • musings March 31, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

        Yes, they are, thank goodness!!! In fact one of my relatives is helping a blogger who contacted me requesting help in finding her family in Sendai yesterday. Blogging really is incredible.

        Like

      • tokyo5 April 1, 2011 at 12:07 am #

        >one of my relatives is helping a blogger…in finding her family in Sendai

        I hope they’re successful and the missing family are fine.

        Like

  6. gigihawaii March 29, 2011 at 7:40 pm #

    I linked your blog entry to mine. Excellent post!

    Like

  7. gigihawaii March 29, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

    I am amazed. Why has all this not been reported in the US media?

    BTW, I donated $100 to the American Red Cross. Hope it helps Japan.

    Like

    • tokyo5 March 29, 2011 at 6:46 pm #

      >Why has all this not been reported in the US media?

      I don’t know. Does the U.S. media still report on the disaster a lot?

      >I donated $100 to the American Red Cross.

      Thank you.

      Like

  8. Bryn March 29, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

    Great article. Almost of 100% of all the relief work is being staged right here at Yokota. The base is jam packed with relief workers, supplies, and the trucks, busses and planes/helicopters needed to transport it all. They’ve had to erect tent cities because we’ve literally run out of room to house all the incredible people who have stepped up to help. We’re closing in on 2 million pounds of water that’s been received, packaged and transported north! Thanks for this post 🙂

    Like

    • tokyo5 March 29, 2011 at 2:54 pm #

      >Great article.

      Thank you.

      >Almost of 100% of all the relief work is being staged right here at Yokota (U.S. Air Force base in western Tokyo).

      I didn’t know that. That base must be very busy then!

      >We’re closing in on 2 million pounds of water that’s been received, packaged and transported north!

      I have been using the metric system since I moved to Japan, so I’m not so used to the U.S. measuring system anymore…but wouldn’t water be measured in gallons?

      Anyways, sounds like a lot of much needed water! The people of Sendai will be grateful for it, I’m sure.

      Like

      • Bryn March 30, 2011 at 4:48 pm #

        All cargo, especially any that will be airlifted, is measured by weight. 2 million pounds (907,185kg) of water is about 120,000 gallons (454,249L)

        Like

      • tokyo5 March 31, 2011 at 12:37 am #

        >All cargo…is measured by weight.

        I see.

        >about 120,000 gallons (454,249L)

        Over 450kl! It will be very needed.

        Like

  9. metalodyssey March 29, 2011 at 11:42 am #

    I could not see it any other way, where Japan and America coupled with Japan and American Troops being such strong friends. 🙂

    Like

    • tokyo5 March 29, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

      Yes, Japan and America have become close allies. I think every country in the world should be an “ally”…especially when disaster strikes!

      Like

  10. Earnest Mercer March 29, 2011 at 1:22 am #

    I arrived in Japan just as the military occupation officially ended and could see the economic devastation left over from the war, but I saw almost no animosity between the U. S. troops and the Japanese citizens. Considering the atrocities from both sides in the war, it is amazing and gratifying to witness how two former enemies can band together for a common reconstruction cause. My book, just published on amazon.com, tells a poignant story of a seventeen-year-old girl reaching a crisis of decision during that period. Anyone interested may go to amazon.com and search for ISBN 9781456522599.

    Like

    • tokyo5 March 29, 2011 at 2:33 am #

      >Considering the atrocities from both sides in the war, it is amazing and gratifying to witness how two former enemies can band together…

      Almost no one in Japan thinks about WW2 or America as a former enemy anymore…Japan and America have had a close relationship for generations now. 🙂

      Like

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