Tea Time at Japan Society



Remembering 3.11 with General Ryoichi Oriki (ret.)

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

General Ryoichi Oriki, JSDF (ret.) experienced 3.11 as Chief of Staff, Joint Staff of the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF). He led JSDF’s heroic response to the disaster, and witnessed the strength the U.S.-Japan alliance. “You can see the respect and appreciation in their eyes,” he recalls the reactions of the elderly and children in Tohoku towards U.S. military personnel helping the region. JSDF’s activities, many of which took place for the first time in JSDF history, also generated immense appreciation among the Japanese public. 3.11 mobilized at most 107,000 JSDF personnel—an equivalent to half of its total forces—who worked tirelessly to not only conduct search and rescue operations that saved 19,000 lives, but also bury the dead, offer emergency reconstruction assistance, and address the Fukushima nuclear accident by helping cool down the reactors, decontaminate radioactive materials, and evacuate nearby residents. 3.11 demonstrated the value of U.S. support and expertise and led to further improvement of U.S.-Japan defense cooperation, according to General Oriki. Foreseeing mega disasters that might impact Japan in the coming decades, he also shares his perspectives on leadership, including Japan’s preparedness and capabilities to manage future crises and overcoming the dilemma faced by military leaders in a national security crisis.

General Ryoichi Oriki, JSDF (ret.)
Former Chief of Staff, Joint Staff of the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF)


General Ryoichi Oriki (JGSDF, ret.) served as the 3rd Chief of Staff of the Joint Staff of Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF), a position he assumed in 2019. In this capacity, he commanded JSDF’s responses to North Korea’s No-dong missile launches and the deployment of counter piracy enforcement forces off the coast of Somalia in 2019, as well as JSDF’s operations in the aftermath of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Since retiring from JSDF in 2012, he has assumed a number of positions such as Special Advisor to the Ministry of Defense, and currently serves as Space Policy Committee member of the Japan’s Cabinet Office, among others. He joined the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Forces (JGSDF) after graduating from the Defense Academy in 1972.

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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