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Fukushima Anniversary

Operation Tomodachi: US-Japan bond forged through natural disasters

10 years on from Fukushima, Tokyo assumes broader role in trans-Pacific alliance

U.S. Marines return to Okinawa after completing their relief mission under "Operation Tomodachi" in northeastern Japan, which was devastated by an earthquake and tsunami, in April 2011.   © Kyodo

TOKYO -- When rising temperatures threatened a catastrophe at the tsunami-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant days after a devastating earthquake in March 2011, then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan finally decided to deploy the Self-Defense Forces.

He ordered SDF helicopters to fly over the plant to spray water over a heating reactor. Seeing Japan's struggle, U.S. forces stationed in Japan decided to jump in, setting in motion a rescue effort, dubbed Operation Tomodachi, after the Japanese word for "friend."

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