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The Tenth Anniversary of the

Great East Japan Earthquake

Remarks of William F. Martin to the Ambassador of Japan to the United States TOMITA Koji on the occasion of the Tenth Anniversary

of the Great East Japan Earthquake


March 9, 2021


It is  pleasure and an honor to be invited to visit with you today. 


I first traveled to Sendai in 1988. The beauty of the Tōhoku region impressed me. Importantly I was able to stay in a Japanese Inn with calm waters and hot springs! It was therefore a deep and disturbing sight I saw on television on March 11, 2011. I thought of my many friends in Tōhoku. Later we learned of the accident and I watched in horror the situation at Fukushima Daiichi.


 Like many Americans, we prayed the people of the region would be safe. My own son, Christopher Flynn Martin, was a doctoral student at Kyoto University and like many Japanese parents I feared for my child’s safety. 


America and Japan started immediately to work together at the highest levels. Now, ten years later I have collected the thoughts of many distinguished Americans who participated in the recovery underway at Fukushima and the restoration of the communities touched by the tragedy. We continue to mourn for those who are lost and we continue to pray for recovery of the Tōhoku region. 


My colleagues who submitted letters for our volume have had the honor to be awarded the Order of the Rising Sun. My wife and I were honored to meet the Emperor Akihito in a ceremony at the Imperial Palace. My wife says the Emperor has an aura about him and one can feel his warmth. I recall the visits of the Emperor and Empress to the Tōhoku region and the honor, respect, love and compassion they showed to the local residents—those impacted so significantly by the Great East Japan Earthquake ten years ago. 


Eleven of the recipients of the Order of the Rising Sun have contributed their recollections of the unshakable friendship of Japan and the United States in this collection of letters which we are presenting today in this book. All of these individuals had some part in the restoration of Japan. Each letter tells a unique story of US-Japan personal partnership; collectively they tell the story of what may be one of the most significant collaborative efforts in our modern US-Japan history. 


Mr. Ambassador, Paule and I hand you the book now. The letters are written to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and we also hope that they will receive some attention by the Imperial Palace. 


Our contributors include a Nobel Prize winner in Physics, leading university scholars including Harvard and MIT, think tank directors including the great Center for Strategic & International Studies, scientists from the National Academy of Sciences, former Secretary and Deputy Secretaries of Energy, the Chairman emeritus of the great Carnegie Institute of Science and the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency. 


We come together because we share the honor of being Recipients of the Order of the Rising Sun. 


We say on the cover of the presentation volume:


10th anniversary of The Great East Japan Earthquake


On this occasion, the recipients of the Order of the Rising Sun express their sympathy to the people of Japan our pledge to continue to pursue close US-Japan relations in the areas of our expertise for which we were honored.


In addition today Paule, Lauren and I would like to offer a special gift to the people of Japan which is truly a work of art. In the last week when I saw the beauty of the letters I felt compelled to call a dear friend of mine who is a New York graphic artist to see if he might craft a presentation book combining the letters with his art. 


Paul Perlow is 77 and a long admirer of Japan, including Japanese professors he had in New York and California. Paul got his start in the late 1960s as a noted artist of album covers. Later he became one of America’s great book designers and I can say he put his whole heart and soul into this volume and is presenting many of his works of art publicly for the first time. 


The art dates back ten years and you will see much beautiful and controversy — sadness and light — and the many characteristics of the Rising Sun.  


Please enjoy this volume which combines the best of American scientific talent with our finest graphic artists so that we never forget the events of 3/11. 

Please click on the image above to read the letters in fullscreen view. 

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