Kyodo News - U.S. lawmaker vows to forge closer ties with Japan in disaster relief

Mar 11, 2016
In The News

A U.S. congressman working on forging closer ties with Japan pledges to bolster his contribution to bilateral cooperation in such areas as disaster relief and nuclear power plant safety.

"Our earthquake and tsunami predictive technology can never be too good," Joaquin Castro, a leading member of the bipartisan U.S.-Japan Caucus, said during an interview with Kyodo News ahead of the fifth anniversary of the 2011 mega earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan.

Castro, founding co-chair of the group on the Democratic side, stressed the necessity of reevaluating and improving safety measures for nuclear reactors to make sure that a catastrophic event like the Fukushima Daiichi plant disaster never happens again.

"By preparing for the worst possible scenario, we'll be able to keep more people safe when the next crisis strikes," said Castro who leads the caucus with more than 70 members.
The Fukushima Daiichi accident, which released a massive amount of radioactive substances, was the world's worst nuclear crisis after Chernobyl in 1986.

A full recovery from the disaster is "a painful process and my heart breaks for everyone who has suffered these past five years," the 41-year-old House of Representatives member from Texas said.

"I trust that the Japanese government is doing everything it can to improve folks' lives and help them finally get back on their feet," he said.

Castro extended his sympathy to the family of Taylor Anderson, an English teacher from Virginia at a school in the northeastern Japanese city of Ishinomaki who was killed at 24 in the March 11, 2011 disaster.

Castro, recently met Anderson's parents, hailed them for setting up a memorial fund in their daughter's name to help people affected by the twin disasters.

"It's beautiful and inspiring that from such pain, Jeanne and Andy have found a way to simultaneously honor their daughter, help the Japanese people rebuild their lives and foster cross-cultural understanding and appreciation," Castro said.

Describing Taylor's work as "building a bridge between the people of Japan and the United States," Castro expressed his willingness to help build "bridges between the younger generations of legislators" in both countries.

"I think that's an important thing to do so that we can say 30 years from now that our relationship is just as strong as it is today," Castro said.