Clinton meets with Matsumoto


Staff Writer

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto on Sunday in Tokyo, where she expressed Washington’s sympathy and solidarity with Japan’s attempts to rebuild from the deadly quake and tsunami that claimed more than 13,000 lives.

“I wish to convey in person to the Japanese people my country’s admiration for your strength in the face of this multidimensional crisis of unprecedented scope,” Clinton said after the meeting. “We are very confident that Japan will demonstrate the resilience that we have seen during this crisis in the months ahead as you resume the very strong position that you hold in the world today.”

Clinton was in town only for the afternoon. In their brief chat, the two foreign ministers agreed on a bilateral “private and public partnership” to support efforts to recover from the twin disasters, which struck eastern Japan on March 11.

Clinton also met with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko and paid a courtesy visit to Prime Minister Naoto Kan later in the day.

The government has been the target of harsh international criticism for a perceived lack of transparency over the crisis at the damaged Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Matsumoto promised Sunday that the government will strive to provide all necessary information .

“We have been paying attention to providing information, but we have and will continue to improve it if it is not enough,” Matsumoto said.

Since the power plant started spewing radioactive material following a series of explosions, the international community has expressed strong concern and issued travel advisories to their citizens warning them to stay away.

On Friday, however, the United States lifted its “voluntary authorized departure status,” encouraging any families of U.S. diplomats who left to return to Japan.

“The State Department lifted a travel advisory for all parts of Japan except the 50 mile (80 km) radius from the nuclear plants,” Clinton said. “We have encouraged businesses and other Americans to go on with their normal lives and travel to Japan for business or other reasons.”

The U.S. government and military have shown strong support since the disasters struck, with more than 14,000 military personnel joining in Operation Tomodachi, meaning friend, to clear debris and distribute aid.