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 7.1 (preliminary estimate) occurred, with its epicenter off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture. On April 11, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake (preliminary estimate) struck, with its epicenter in the Hamadori area, Fukushima Prefecture.
(2) Immediately after the earthquake, the Government of Japan 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. Efforts have also been being made by the whole government to support the early recovery of people's lives and economic activity. On March 17, for example, the Cabinet Office set up the Headquarters for Special Measures to Assist the Lives of Disaster Victims. On April 11, the Cabinet decided to assemble the Reconstruction Design Council in Response to the Great East Japan Earthquake.
(3) Sympathies have been expressed and assistance offered from around the world. So far, rescue teams and medical assistance teams from 21 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. On April 23, Minister Matsumoto visited Minami-Sanrikucho, Miyagi Prefecture, along with Prime Minister Gillard of Australia, who was visiting Japan, to encourage those who suffered from the disaster.
(1) The earthquake and tsunami devastated the Tohoku district and other regions. Damages were inflicted in Kanto district, too. The number of deaths is 14,817, the number of injured is 5,279, and the number of missing is 10,171 (as of May 5 according to the National Police Agency). The number of those evacuated is 166,671 (as of May 2 at 11:00 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 towards rehabilitation and continuing to make a gradual recovery. This includes a resumption of operations from April 13 of Sendai Airport, which had been closed due to the earthquake and tsunami damages, as well as the total resumption of operations for the Tohoku Shinkansen on April 29.
- 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 a working dinner with Prime Minister Gillard of Australia, and received a courtesy call from Director General Amano of the IAEA, Secretary of State Clinton of the United States 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, Foreign Minister Timerman of Argentina, Vice-Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Asselborn of Luxembourg, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration Polye of Papua New Guinea，Minister of State for International Cooperation Al-Attiyah of Qatar, Minister of Foreign Affairs Milososki of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), and Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah of the United Arab Emirates; met and held telephone talks with Secretary of State Clinton of the United States, Foreign Minister Patriota of Brazil, and Foreign Minister Rudd of Australia; held a telephone talk and an informal meeting with Foreign Secretary Hague of the United Kingdom; and had telephone talks with and Foreign Minister McCully of New Zealand, Foreign Minister Marty of Indonesia, and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Nkoana-Mashabane of South Africa. 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, paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Gillard of Australia, and had a working dinner with Secretary General Gurria of the OECD. 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
Map of rescue teams' operations [PDF]
Schedule of Operations of Rescue Teams from Foreign Countries, Regions and International Organizations [PDF]
List of Relief Goods and Donations from Overseas [PDF] Donations Received by the Japanese Red Cross Society from Other National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
(1) So far 146 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 21 countries and regions (Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Jordan, 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 and donations 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 42 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.