Operation Tomodachi, launched by the United States in response to last March's quake and tsunami, was an unprecedented effort by Washington and especially the U.S. military to provide relief to disaster victims.

The response generated much good will toward the United States among quake and tsunami survivors in Tohoku and sparked interest among other local governments about how the U.S. military could come to their aid in the event of a similar disaster.

At the same time, U.S. officials and policy experts said Operation Tomodachi was prompted by a unique set of conditions that may be entirely different if a future earthquake and tsunami of similar scale were to strike Japan when the regional security situation is different.