Jiji Press is reporting that as of today (May 1st), the US disaster relief efforts known as Operation Tomodachi have come to an end. US troops will now begin to withdraw from the Tohoku coastline and return to their bases, and the US-Japan Joint Cooperation Center in Sendai has closed down. While some operations such as logistical support will continue, the work on the ground will be handed over to the Japanese Self-Defence Forces. Other joint operations, such as ‘Soul Train’, will continue. At its peak, 18,000 US personnel were involved in rescue operations in the Tohoku disaster zone, including 20 ships and 150 aircraft. Since being put into effect on March 12th, US forces have distributed 7,700 tonnes of water, 300 tonnes of food in addition to a further 650 tonnes (approx.) distributed by Japanese forces, according to the Yomiuri.
The question remains what societal effects this operation had, and how much of the financial burden will fall back on Japan. Regardless of the realities after the fact, the mission was a sign of continued support and came with much appreciation on the ground.
A former contributor to World Intelligence (Japan Military Review), James Simpson joined Japan Security Watch in 2011, migrating with his blog Defending Japan. He has a Masters in Security Studies from Aberystwyth University and is currently living in Kawasaki, Japan.
His primary interests include the so-called 'normalization' of Japanese security (i.e. militarization), and the political impact of the abduction issue with North Korea.
James Simpson has 254 post(s) on Japan Security Watch