John Roos: The US-Japan Relationship

John Roos, American ambassador to Japan (2009-2013), was instrumental in overseeing the US response to Japan’s devastating earthquake in March 2011. He discussed the importance of face-to-face diplomacy and the evolution of the US-Japan relationship.

On attending the peace memorial services in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 2011: "I wanted to go to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I think it’s something every American should see and it had a major impact on me and my family. So when I was invited to the commemoration ceremony, it wasn’t a very difficult decision. I wanted to do it and I thought I could do it in a way that accomplished two things: to advance the President’s agenda of the elimination of nuclear weapons and to show respect for all the victims of World War II."

On launching Operation Tomodachi (to support Japan’s post-earthquake recovery): "I went to the [earthquake-stricken] region several times and asked what the United States could do to continue to help. What we determined Americans could do was provide hope for Japan’s younger generation. So we developed a public-private partnership to empower the youth in the Tohoku region and connect them with the United States through education and cultural exchanges."