More:Information on Japan's Earthquake and Tsunamis | How You Can Help | Travel-Related and Contact Information | For concerns about a specific U.S. citizen in Japan, email JapanEmergencyUSC@state.gov.
U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos briefed the press on the ongoing response to the Japanese earthquakes and tsunami on March 14, 2011. Ambassador Roos started the press conference by expressing his condolences to the victims of the current catastrophes and noted that the U.S. flag is at half mast to pay tribute to the Japanese people.
Ambassador Roos said, "I just want to take a moment before we get started with the U.S. brief to commend the government of Japan and the Japanese people. Japan is one of the most well-prepared and capable countries in the world to manage a response to a disaster such as we have seen. You heard Prime Minister Kan talk about the fact that this is the biggest disaster and challenge that Japan has faced since World War II and I think Japan, I know Japan, the country, is up to the task. The country has proven over and over again with respect to other countries around the world who have needed their help, that this is a people that step up in a time of need. And I also want to tell you that I am glad to see, because I think it's important that not only the United States, but many of Japan's other friends stepping up to help Japan when it is so desperately in need.
"I just want to commend, once again, the Government of Japan and the Japanese people for their resilience during this extremely challenging time. We''e seen on television, in the streets, the people of Japan remaining calm and pitching in to help one another and that has just been during the period when so much has happened during the last 72 hours.
"So with that, let me turn to the U.S. effort. I think it goes without saying that the United States of America is one of Japan's closest friends. This is a time when our country needs to step up for the country of Japan. We wanted to begin these briefings so that we can go through some of the latest facts on the ground as we know them. I'm going to make a few comments with regards to some of the U.S. efforts going on, but I have with me here today General Field who is the Commander of U.S. Forces Japan, and I've asked him to speak to some of the military efforts, humanitarian and disaster relief efforts that are going on, because they are so critical to the overall U.S. efforts.
"First of all, because I know it's on everyone's mind, let me just comment on the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant issue.
"We would like to reiterate that U.S. experts have been in close consultation with Japanese experts regarding the evolving situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
"Our experts have included senior representatives of the White House, the Department of Energy, the Department of Health and Human Services, the President's Chief Senior Science Advisor, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and I think it's important to say that the NRC members who are on the ground here include experts in boiling water nuclear reactors and they have come to Japan to make themselves available to assist their Japanese counterparts.
"Our position that was set forth yesterday has not changed: we are encouraging U.S. citizens to heed the instructions of the Japanese civil defense authorities.
"Japan's Nuclear Industrial Safety Agency has recommended that people who live within 20 kilometers of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant evacuate the area immediately. No other evacuations have been recommended.
"Now, as the Government of Japan announced earlier today, a hydrogen explosion occurred at the 3rd reactor at Fukushima. I wish I had more information for you, but all I can tell you right now is that we are currently in consultations with Japanese officials about the situation, as well as reviewing the situation with our own experts. We are confident that the government of Japan is doing all it can to respond to this serious situation.
"Again, I just want to re-emphasize we are available to assist Japan in its efforts responding to this current development and we will of course provide further updates.
"Let me now turn to consular information. As you know, American citizens are our highest priority. Let me just give you a couple of facts. Number one: we are not aware of any confirmed reports of American deaths in Japan. I have been informed that there are also no serious injuries that we are aware of at this time.
"Now the State Department has received numerous inquiries on the welfare and whereabouts of specific U.S. citizens in Japan. And the Embassy and the State Department are working around the clock. We have our consular services available 24 hours a day to determine the whereabouts and well-being of all U.S. citizens in Japan.
"The best information that we have right now is that there are approximately 1,300 American citizens in the Japanese prefectures that were most affected by the earthquake and the tsunami.
"U.S. citizens in need of emergency consular assistance should send an e-mail to JapanEmergencyUSC@state.gov and please include detailed information about their location and contact information.
"Now, you probably all know, but I should repeat that there are numerous other websites with information and updates as we develop them and those are made available. Karen Kelley, our press officer here, can give you copies of those websites after this press conference. I should also say that I am trying to tweet current developments as they become available.
"In addition, Prime Minister Kan's office has established an English-language website that users may access for the latest quake-related information. (www.kantei.go.jp/foreign/index-e.html)
"Let me comment briefly on the USAID assistance that the United States is providing. USAID response includes the USAID Disaster Assistance and Response Team which is now on the ground in Japan and is working to coordinate overall U.S. government response efforts along with the U.S. Embassy. The USAID/DART team includes four experts from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They are advising USAID/DART on nuclear issues, including the ones I previously made reference to, and are again consulting with their Japanese counterparts.
"Urban Search and Rescue teams from Fairfax County and Los Angeles County are on the ground in Misawa, Japan and will begin search-and-rescue operations today. Comprised of 144 personnel with emergency medical skills, engineering, and water search capabilities, they are clearly going to be important in the disaster relief efforts. They also, by the way, include 12 canines trained to detect live victims.
"The Government of Japan, and I should emphasize this, is directing the search and rescue teams to conduct operations along with Japanese firefighting units in the areas that are hardest hit by the tsunami.
"Now, as you know, a major, major effort is underway by the United States military and earlier today General Field had the opportunity to visit some of the disaster areas. So I thought in this briefing today it would be helpful for General Field to provide an overall view not only of his thoughts with regard to today, but the military effort."
You can read Ambassador Roos' complete remarkshere.