The following is a prepared text of DPJ policy chief Seiji Maehara's speech, delivered in Washington on Sept. 7, obtained by The Asahi Shimbun.
Thank you very much for giving me an opportunity to deliver a keynote speech at the 'Tokyo Washington Dialogue' today. As I understand it, the dialogue gives a rare opportunity for Japanese and American experts on maritime security from politics, government, and academia to convene. The participants will discuss the significance of Japan-U.S. alliance essential for peace and security of the Asia-Pacific. I pay my respect to all the participants here for playing extremely important roles in shaping public opinion in their own countries through their activities. Also, today is the 87th birthday of Senator Daniel Inouye who has greatly contributed to deepening and developing Japan-U.S. alliance. I would like to take this opportunity to heartily congratulate Senator Inouye on his birthday. It is my great honor to deliver an address on Japan-U.S. relations in such a day. Prior to the panel discussion, I would like to give a speech titled 'Japan-U.S. alliance in the multilateral cooperation.'
Now, when considering the future of Japan-U.S. alliance, we must touch upon the Japan-U.S. joint operation in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11.
The earthquake was the strongest in Japan's recorded history. It had a magnitude of 9.0. And the fault was about 450 km long and about 200km wide. In particular, the tsunami, 9.3 meter at the highest, caused enormous damages to the coastal area. Additionally, the accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant made search and rescue operation harder. This crisis, a combination of unprecedented natural disaster and radiation, imposed unprecedented strain on our alliance, which is meant to defend Japan from armed attack and maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific.
Nevertheless, the alliance functioned sufficiently. The Self-Defense Forces of Japan dispatched more than 100,000 personnel to the affected areas. The U.S. Forces conducted disaster relief activities with SDF under 'Operation Tomodachi.' President (Barack) Obama made a statement immediately after the earthquake that the U.S. spared no effort in supporting Japan. In fact, U.S. AID sent a rescue team to Japan. It also sent nuclear experts and offered necessary equipment to tackle the Fukushima accident. American citizens extended us donations amounting to about $300 million as well as many encouraging messages. As can be seen, Japan received great deal of support from every level of the U.S.
Above all, 'Operation Tomodachi' was largely taken up at home and abroad. About 24,500 U.S. military personnel, 189 airplanes, and 24 warships, including aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, joined the operation. Defense Minister Mr. Kitazawa made a statement that, 'We have never appreciated the value and the significance of our alliance with the U.S. as much as we do today.' The rescue operation ran by the SDF and the U.S. Forces in one drew attention of the Japanese people. It has been highly evaluated. In Japan, people say that the Japanese people and the SDF have never been closer than now since its creation. It is also without doubt that the U.S. Forces gave a considerably good impression to the Japanese people than ever.
As such, I believe the alliance fully demonstrated its true value, which has been fostered over 50 years, in the aftermath of the disaster. I wish to reiterate my gratitude as we owe this to prompt and efficient response of the American side.
Meanwhile, we have recognized once again that, in a time of crisis, the top priority for both countries is to protect their people's lives and properties. The armies are on duty to defend their national interest. On the outbreak of the nuclear accident, the U.S. authority recommended American citizens in Japan to leave the country. I understand this was a very natural recommendation for any country to make. We must, therefore, consider how to respond to more severe cases. The concept of 'complex contingencies' included in Japan's National Defense Program Guidelines decided by the Cabinet last year, envisages a case where the government must defend offshore islands, respond to ballistic missiles, and other threats all at once. The concept, however, does not include large-scale and rare disasters. Naturally, complex contingencies will be more confused, complicated and intense as offensive intention of enemy exists accompanied with military combats. After all, Japan-U.S. alliance must appropriately tackle them.