Overview of the earthquake disaster and the Government of Japan's response
(1) Around 14:46 on March 11, a massive earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0 struck Sanriku Coast, Japan. The ensuing tsunami swept across many cities and villages along the Pacific coast of the Tohoku district, causing tremendous human and structural damage. In Miyako City, Iwate Prefecture, tsunami waves of over 8.5 meters high (maximum) were observed. Tokyo also observed tremors with a seismic intensity of 5-strong, but damage there was relatively modest. Aftershocks still persist, particularly in the Tohoku district. On April 7, an earthquake of magnitude 7.4 (preliminary estimate) occurred, with its epicenter off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture.On April 11, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake (preliminary estimate) struck, with its epicenter in the Hamadori area, Fukushima Prefecture.
(2) The Government of Japan immediately set up its emergency headquarters with Prime Minister Kan at the helm, making all-out efforts for search and rescue, assisting evacuees, and reconstructing various lifelines, in liaison with all government bodies and local governments.
(3) Sympathies have been expressed and assistance offered from around the world. So far, rescue teams from 20 countries and regions as well as the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts, and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) have arrived Japan and have been in operation. Also, the U.S. Forces in Japan are extending assistance.
(4) The earthquake and tsunami resulted in emergency situations including failure of the reactor-cooling systems in TEPCO(Tokyo Electric Power Company)'s nuclear power stations in Fukushima Prefecture. Responses have been taken with regards to these situations. (For more information, please refer to Ensuring safety of nuclear power stations.)
(5) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has been undertaking coordination with respect to acceptance of foreign rescue teams, etc., communication with the diplomatic corps and the foreign press corps, and confirmation of the safety of foreign nationals, among other measures. Japan's overseas missions are accepting relief money from private organizations, etc., of foreign countries.
(6) On April 1, the Government of Japan decided, in the form of a Cabinet approval, to use the name "Great East Japan Earthquake" to refer collectively to the disasters due to the Tohoku - Pacific Ocean Earthquake on March 11, 2011 and the resultant nuclear plant accidents.
(7) On April 4, three high-ranking MOFA officials visited four prefectures affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake, with State Secretary Chiaki Takahashi going to Iwate, Parliamentary Vice-Minister Makiko Kikuta to Miyagi, and Parliamentary Vice-Minister Hisashi Tokunaga to Fukushima and Tochigi for purpose of the Ministry's future activities in the wake of the quake.
(1) The earthquake and tsunami devastated the Tohoku district and other regions. Damages were inflicted in Kanto district, too. The number of deaths is 13,538, the number of injured is 4,920, and the number of missing is 14,589 (as of April 15 at 10:00 according to the National Police Agency). The number of those evacuated is approximately 182,122 (as of April 14 at 7:00 according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency).
(2) In the Tohoku district and other regions, electricity, gas and water were disconnected in many areas. Roads, railways, airports, and other infrastructure were also severely damaged. Currently, the whole nation is working for the post-disaster rehabilitation, and lifelines and infrastructures are gradually recovering, including a partial resumption of operation, from April 13, of Sendai Airport, which had been closed due to the earthquake and tsunami damages.
- Sympathies from countries and regions around the world
(1) Many sympathies, as well as expressions of solidarity, have been offered from countries and regions around the world as well as international organizations, including in the form of video-messages (YouTube United Nations Videos).
(2) Prime Minister Kan had telephone talks with President Obama of the United States, President Lee Myung-bak of the Republic of Korea, Prime Minister Gillard of Australia, President Medvedev of Russia, Prime Minister John Key of New Zealand, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations, President Sarkozy of France, President Van Rompuy of the European Council, Prime Minister Singh of India, Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom, Chancellor Merkel of Germany, and Premier Wen of China. Prime Minister Kan also had talks with visiting President Sarkozy of France and received a courtesy call from Director General Amano of the IAEA and others.
(3) Minister for Foreign Affairs Matsumoto met with Foreign Minister Lavrov of Russia, Foreign Minister Juppe of France, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi of China, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Kim Sung-hwan of the ROK, Foreign Minister Westerwelle of Germany,and Foreign Minister Timerman of Argentina; met and held telephone talks with Secretary of State Clinton of the United States; held telephone talks and an informal meeting with Foreign Secretary Hague of the United Kingdom; and had telephone talks with Foreign Minister Rudd of Australia and Foreign Minister McCully of New Zealand, Foreign Minister Patriota of Brazil, and Foreign Minister Marty of Indonesia. Minister Matsumoto also had an informal meeting with High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union (EU) Ashton. Minister Matsumoto also received a courtesy call from Director General Amano of the IAEA and others. On April 9, Minister Matsumoto attended the Special ASEAN-Japan Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Jakarta. On the sidelines of the meeting, he had bilateral talks with Foreign Minister Marty of Indonesia, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya of Thailand, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong of Cambodia, and the Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario of the Philippines. The Japanese foreign minister also had an informal meeting with Mr. Phongsavath Boupha, Minister to the Presidential Palace of Laos.
- Emergency assistance from overseas countries and regions
(1) So far 136 countries and regions as well as 39 international organizations have expressed their intentions to extend assistance.
(2) So far, rescue and medical support teams from 20 countries and regions (Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Mongolia, New Zealand, the ROK, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, the U.K., the U.S.) as well as and the UNOCHA, an IAEA expert team, and the WFP have arrived Japan and have been operating in disaster-stricken areas. (The list includes countries and regions which have already left the site.) Surveys have been conducted by UN organizations and other institutions related to disaster relief. Japan has received relief goods from countries and regions throughout the world, as well as from international organizations.
(3) On the evening of March 11, Foreign Minister Matsumoto formally requested U.S. Ambassador Roos for the assistance of the U.S. Forces in Japan. U.S. Forces have been conducting large-scale aid activities (Operation Tomodachi), with about 20 ships and about 160 aircraft as well as over 20,000 personnel (at their peak). The Government of Japan has been informed that they have already distributed more than 280 tons of supplies (as well as having transported 3,100 tons of cargo). (More information)
(4) Australia's C17 aircraft has been providing transportation assistance in Japan, and urgently transported a special pump needed for cooling Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant from Australia.
(5) Medical relief teams from around the world have carried out operations in Japan.
(6) Japan's overseas missions are accepting relief money for this earthquake. NGOs, private companies and individuals around the world have extended or offered numerous donations and/or assistance. At least 39 NGOs from 16 countries are known to have arrived in Japan to date.
The Japan Platform (JPF) , a Japanese NGO, has announced that it will act as a point of contact for overseas NGOs' relief operations in Japan, in collaboration with the Japan NGO Center for International Cooperation (JANIC) . Japanese NGOs for international cooperation that belong to the JPF are engaged in relief activities in the afflicted areas.