Tea Time at Japan Society



Remembering 3.11 with Ambassador John Roos and Suzanne Basalla

March 2021
Part of Tea Time at Japan Society & Ten Years Later: Japan Society Remembers 3.11

Ambassador John V. Roos and his Senior Advisor, Suzanne Basalla, were at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo when the earthquake hit on 3.11. A crisis was declared, and within 24 hours, the U.S. had deployed military troops and assets to the affected areas, providing humanitarian and technical support in coordination with the Japanese Self-Defense Forces. American experts and scientists arrived to help Japan with the nuclear crisis. "Our Embassy grew by 150," Ambassador Roos said. "But it was deeper than that—these were human beings who cared deeply about a country of friends, an ally in crisis." Operation Tomodachi—the name of the military response which became a buzzword for the U.S. government response—"really meant a lot, not just to the government of Japan but to the people of Japan," Suzanne noted. To build on this goodwill, they created the Tomodachi Initiative, a public/private partnership with the Embassy and the U.S.-Japan Council. Ten years later, as President and CEO of the U.S.-Japan Council, Suzanne leads the Tomodachi Initiative. "The alliance between our two countries is phenomenal, but it goes so much deeper—it's the connections between the people. All this is critical to the U.S.-Japan relationship, and also to the area of the world that is going to drive the future of the 21st century," Ambassador Roos concluded.

John V. Roos
Former United States Ambassador to Japan


John V. Roos was the United States Ambassador to Japan from August 2009-August 2013. On Aug. 6, 2010 he became the first sitting U.S. Ambassador ever to attend the commemoration ceremony of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima. Ambassador Roos' service in Tokyo coincided with the devastating earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis on March 11, 2011. Ambassador Roos led the American effort on the ground in support of Japan's response to the multi-dimensional and unprecedented disaster, and after the crisis, he also led the creation of the public-private TOMODACHI Initiative. Currently, Ambassador Roos is the Co-founding Partner at Geodesic Capital. He received his A.B. with honors in Political Science from Stanford University and a J.D. from Stanford Law School.

Suzanne Basalla
President and CEO of the U.S.-Japan Council (USJC)


Suzanne Basalla is President and CEO of the U.S.-Japan Council (USJC). She previously served as Chief of Staff at the Toyota Research Institute (TRI). Prior to TRI, Basalla served as EVP and COO at USJC, with a focus on investing in next-generation leaders through the public-private TOMODACHI Initiative. A former officer in the U.S. Navy, Basalla was Director for Japan in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. She subsequently was appointed Senior Advisor to John Roos, U.S. Ambassador to Japan. In that capacity, she supported Ambassador Roos on the full portfolio of security, economic, political, and cultural issues in the U.S.-Japan relationship. She is also a Board Member of the Japan Society of Northern California and Special Advisor to Career Girls.

Japan Society's Tea Time Season #3 features reflections on the Great East Earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster that struck Japan 10 years ago on March 11, 2011. Tea Time Season #3 is proudly supported by Tokio Marine Group and ITO EN (North America) INC.

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