U.S. readies aid as death toll from Japan earthquake rises above 100

The United States said Friday it was preparing military logistical support and aid for regions in Japan devastated by an earthquake that killed 126 people, forced about 33,000 people to leave their homes, and left over 200 people unaccounted for.

“The U.S. is here to support our friend and ally in its earthquake response. Military logistical support, food, and other supplies are being readied,” U.S. ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel posted on social media site X.

Japan is in talks with the U.S. about emergency assistance and rejected offers for help from other countries including China for the time being.

“We are not accepting any personnel or material aid from other countries or regions at the moment given the situation on the ground and the effort that would be required to receive them,” Japan’s top spokesperson Yoshimasa Hayashi said.

A firefighter walks through the rubble and wreckage of a burned-out marketplace in Wajima in Japan's Ishikawa prefecture on Jan. 2, 2024.
A firefighter walks through the rubble and wreckage of a burned-out marketplace in Wajima in Japan’s Ishikawa prefecture Tuesday.(Kyodo News via AP)

A U.S. official who declined to be named told Reuters the two governments were coordinating on possible assistance from U.S. troops.

About 54,000 U.S. forces personnel are based in Japan, the biggest U.S. military presence abroad, according to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

U.S. armed forces were deeply involved in disaster relief efforts in the 2011 earthquake, providing over 24,000 personnel with 24 ships and 189 aircraft. They also provided earthquake aid in Kyushu island in 2016.

“All of U.S. Forces Japan remain ready to support our Japanese Allies during this difficult time. We are unable to provide specifics on military support operations at this time, but we will provide updates when we have more that we can share,” the U.S. Forces in Japan said in a statement.

More than 100 trapped

The 7.6 magnitude quake struck western Japan’s Noto peninsula on the afternoon of New Year’s Day, flattening homes, triggering a tsunami and cutting off remote communities.

As the emergency response moved from rescue to aid and recovery, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said there were offers for help and messages of condolence from governments including Taiwan and China.


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