Hillary Visits Japan and offers sympathy and support

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Japan since its devastating earthquake and tsunami last month, Sunday expressed sympathy and support in meetings with the country’s prime minister and various officials as well its emperor and empress in a rare audience over afternoon tea.

Arriving at the imperial palace residence, Clinton shook the emperor’s hand and kissed the empress on both cheeks. “I’m so, so sorry for everything your country is going through. If there’s anything we can do for you . . . ,” Clinton said as she held the empress’s hands.

The effusive statements of support and appreciation from both sides during the visit reflect a high-water mark in the relationship — spurred on by strong U.S. support since the March 11 earthquake with funding, disaster relief and nuclear expertise.

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GACKT launches earthquake relief fund

Singer GACKT is using his influence to help earthquake relief efforts, establishing a new emergency donation fund called “SHOW YOUR HEART.” The fund was organized with cooperation from popular online gaming portal Hangame, and a special webpage has been launched for the fund.

A large number of other celebrities have added messages of support on the webpage, including LUNA SEA’s Shinya, h.NAOTO, Fujiwara Norika, Izumiya Shigeru, Nightmare’s Ni~ya, BREAKERZ’s DAIGO, Jinnai Tomonori, Haruna Ai, Koike Eiko, Tamaki Nami, Ohguro Maki, and many more.

The donations, which are being accepted through a Sumitomo Mitsui bank account, will be given to the Japanese Red Cross and prefectural welfare organizations.


U.S. readies relief for quake-hit ally Japan

President Barack Obama sent condolences to the people of Japan on Friday and said the United States would provide any help its close ally needed after a massive earthquake and tsunami killed hundreds.

The Defense Department was preparing American forces in the Pacific Ocean to provide relief after the quake, which generated a tsunami that headed across the Pacific past Hawaii and toward the west coast of the U.S. mainland.

Authorities said hundreds of people were killed in Japan and the toll was expected to surpass 1,000.

Obama was awakened by his chief of staff, Bill Daley, at about 4 a.m. EST and called Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan later in the morning.

"On behalf of the American people, I conveyed our deepest condolences, especially to the victims and their families, and I offered our Japanese friends whatever assistance is needed," Obama said at a midday news conference.

"I’m heartbroken by this tragedy," Obama said.

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