The governor of Iwate Prefecture — one of the areas hardest hit by the March 11, 2011, quake and tsunami — hosted an event in New York on Monday to thank the United States for its help after the devastating disasters.

"You have been there for us since immediately after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami until this very day," Takuya Tasso told the audience of about 200 at the Japan Society in Manhattan, adding that according to the Japanese Red Cross, total U.S. donations of ¥2.9 billion made it the highest contributing country in the world.

Tasso said that the U.S. military's Operation Tomodachi, where 24,500 service members, 24 ships and 189 aircraft were deployed to the disaster area, played a key role in relief and reconstruction efforts.