AMBASSADOR JOHN ROOS: The
terrible earthquake and tsunami that devastated Northeastern
Japan and the subsequent damage to the Fukushima
nuclear reactors continues to have repercussions
for the American community as well. Every day, I’m heartened by
the outpouring of compassion and support demonstrated by
individual citizens and U.S. government professionals
as we reach out to our Japanese friends
during this incredibly challenging time. American citizens
residing in Japan may continue to
experience ongoing effects from these unprecedented events
and restoring a normal way of life may take some time. During this period,
we are committed to providing you with
guidance and information to assist you and
your entire family. Today, I want to take a
few minutes to tell you a little bit more specifically
about the actions we’re taking at the Embassy to address
concerns we all have about the current situation. Staff at the embassy
continually reviews the needs of American citizens. And since the events
of March 11th, we are fortunate to have
more than 100 colleagues from across our government who
have joined us here in Japan to augment our
efforts with expertise in nuclear energy,
health, logistics, and other specialties. Let me tell you a little
bit about what they have done in just the past 24 hours. On the radiation question,
a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency team,
including experts from the Departments of Energy
and Defense and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, continue
to analyze, minute minute, information related to
the damaged nuclear plant at Fukushima and to work
with the government of Japan to provide any and all
needed technical assistance. These experts have also
engaged industry specialists in study and evaluating issues
related to safety and future planning. The United States Nuclear
Regulatory Commission continues to recommend
that U.S. citizens remain outside 50 miles,
or 80 kilometers, of the Fukushima plant,
or remain indoors as much as possible if
departure within that area is not practical. Purely as a
precautionary measure– and let me re-emphasize that– this is purely precautionary– the U.S. Embassy is continuing
to make potassium iodide tablets available to private
U.S. citizens who have not been able to obtain it from
their physician, employer, or other sources. We recommend that you do
not take potassium iodide at this time. There are risks associated
with taking this medication. You should only take
potassium iodide if emergency management
officials, public health officials, or your
doctor tell you to do so. Bear in mind that we
are making potassium iodide available to you only
out of an abundance of caution. Until further
notice, the tablets are available seven days
a week at our embassy and at the New Sanno
Hotel in Tokyo. Check our embassy
website for details about times and addresses. On the issue of food safety– something I know concerns many
families, concerns us all– our representative from the
U.S. Department of Agriculture met with officials of
the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture,
Farming and Fisheries to understand steps that
the Government of Japan has taken to protect food
supplies within the country. He reports that not only
has the Japanese government ceased production and
shipment of products from the affected prefectures,
but restaurants and stores also have voluntarily stopped
purchasing products from these areas. Fish are being tested before
they are sold to consumers. As reports come in
on water safety, we will continue to monitor
and analyze the data. And we’ll do our
best to provide you with any updated information. On health issues related
to the crisis in general, government health experts
from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
now based here at our embassy in Tokyo, met with officials
of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs
to discuss ways to harmonize our
information and activities to the benefit of both nations. The exchange of scientific
health information will not only support
the current response but also help us
prepare for the future. We have established a
health working group that includes not only
our embassy medical team, but members from U.S.
government agencies, such as the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention and the National
Institutes for Health. This group meets continuously
to review health issues, respond to developments,
and make any needed recommendations. As spring break
comes to a close, many families are
eager to know how to plan for returning to
school, work, and daily living. We will keep you
informed regularly about our activities and our
understanding of the situation so that you will have the
current information that can assist you in
making decisions to support your continued safety
and well-being as residents of Japan. Our consular officers are
working 24 hours a day during this critical period. Please do not hesitate
to contact them. In the event that you
need emergency assistance, you can also email
[email protected] with detailed information
about your location and contact information. And you can also monitor
the embassy website at japan.usembassy.gov. Finally, I encourage you all to
sign up for a Twitter account if you haven’t already done so. Over the past two weeks, we have
found that Twitter messages are one of the best ways to
distribute timely, accurate, and up-to-date messages
during this ongoing situation. From my @AmbassadorRoos
account, I will keep you informed regularly
and will respond directly to your messages when I can. Thank you so much for
taking the time to listen.