TOKYO — Japan has accepted a U.S. offer to assist in response to the powerful quake that rocked the central region on New Year’s Day, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel said Thursday, noting that logistical support from the military as well as food and other supplies are being readied.
“When Japan is in a time of need, we’re here to support them, both civilian with resources, military with logistics,” the ambassador told Kyodo News. Initially the aid will be worth around $100,000 but that would be a “down-payment,” he said.
The announcement comes as Japan continues with its search and rescue operations in Ishikawa Prefecture as the death toll rises above 80 following the magnitude-7.6 quake on Monday. Access to the disaster-hit areas by land has been hampered due to severed roads.
The ambassador said helicopters would help in moving resources in and out of the area, and a range of assistance –– from food, water, blankets, medical support to military engineers for bridges and roads — is on the table.
“We’ve offered it (assistance), it’s been accepted. And this is a down-payment, if they need more, they know they can always call,” he said.
While countries and regions around the world have offered support and sent messages of condolences, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said earlier in the day that his government has so far declined to receive personnel and material support from overseas apparently because the affected areas are not yet capable of receiving material support or housing volunteers.
But Kishida also told a press conference that Japan will be grateful for support that would not create any “burden.”
Emanuel said Japan’s latest move to accept U.S. offer does not contradict its position, citing the U.S.-Japan alliance and the resources that already exist in the Asian country.
“Without getting in the way…we’re going to do whatever Japan says to move the resources wherever…This is a Japan-led effort. We’re in an assistant, secondary role,” he said.
As for when the aid will start, the ambassador said, “I don’t want to put a timeline of when it will be delivered but the wheels to deliver are already starting.”
U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement issued after the Monday quake that his country “stands ready to provide any necessary assistance for the Japanese people.”
When the massive earthquake-tsunami hit northeastern Japan in 2011, the U.S. military conducted a disaster relief mission known as “Operation Tomodachi,” which came to symbolize the bilateral alliance