WASHINGTON – Japan's foreign minister said Friday the tornado destruction that swiped the U.S. this week killing more than 300 people evoked the carnage of the earthquake that recently struck his own country.
Takeaki Matsumoto was speaking to reporters after holding talks with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who paid tribute to Japan's "courage and conviction" in coping with its worst natural disaster in memory.
Matsumoto expressed his sympathy for those who died in high winds that hit seven states Wednesday, America's worst tornado outbreak since 1932.
He said TV images of the destruction reminded him of the damage caused by the magnitude-9.0 quake and tsunami that hit eastern Japan on March 11. That disaster is believed to have killed nearly 26,000 people
He said Japan was "truly grateful" for U.S. help in the aftermath, including its help at a crippled nuclear plant which has been leaking radiation.
Matsumoto, making his first visit to the U.S. since taking office two days before the quake, said Japan would "emerge stronger and continue to fulfill its responsibilities to the international community."
Clinton said Japan's recent announcement that it would keep its financial assistance for reconstruction in Afghanistan at pre-quake levels was "a remarkable example of both leadership and generosity."
Japan, a key U.S. ally, faces a massive recovery bill, estimated as high as $305 billion — equivalent to the size of Greece's entire economy.
Clinton said the U.S. government and private sector will support Japan's recovery plans.
Matsumoto urged Americans to come to Japan for business and tourism, and to buy more Japanese products to help its economy.
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