U.S. military forces stand ready to provide anything from cots to heavy equipment to help Japan recover from its devastating earthquake, Pentagon officials say.
And a technical team of government highway, building, fire and earthquake experts is set to depart for Japan as early as this weekend, Transportation Department officials said Tuesday.
President Clinton offered assistance during a visit Tuesday to California, where he was assessing recovery from an earthquake there a year ago. Clinton said America’s top military officer - Gen. John Shalikashvili, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - was already in Japan on other business and had promised U.S. military support.
Leaders of Taiwan, France, Germany, Italy and Britain also promised aid, and condolences were sent by leaders of countries all over the world.
On his return flight to Washington, Clinton phoned Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama to express condolences to the families of victims and to personally extend the U.S. offer to aid in the recovery effort.
“The prime minister accepted the offer of assistance; he was grateful for it,” White House press secretary Mike McCurry said.
Murayama said the most urgent need was to locate the missing, and Clinton agreed, McCurry said. The two leaders also pledged to coordinate efforts over the next several days on just what role the United States could play in the recovery.
Some 47,000 U.S. military men and women are stationed in Japan. About half are on Okinawa, an island far south of the area where the tremor struck, said Maj. Steve Manuel, a Pentagon spokesman.
“We can do anything - send heavy equipment, blankets, you name it,” he said.
No U.S. military facilities were damaged, nor were any personnel injured in the quake.