TOKYO, Aug. 23 (UPI) — U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, visiting areas of Japan rebuilding from a monstrous earthquake and tsunami, hailed the courage of the Japanese people.
Biden, while touring Sendai, spoke Tuesday of how much Americans admire the “stamina and resolve” of the survivors of the March 11 disaster and subsequent crisis at a nuclear power plant.
“We’re here as long as you need us to help you rebuild,” he said at a community center. “The way you came together was the envy of the world.”
He chatted with several groups of people, discussing their situations in the earthquake’s aftermath.
“We will stay as long as necessary to help you,” he said.
Earlier, Biden met in Tokyo with Prime Minister Naoto Kan.
“[We] are back in business and for traveling and … and this visit of Mr. vice president to Japan demonstrates to the world that Japan is open for business and travel, and this is a splendid opportunity to demonstrate that,” Kan said.
“Looking at it from afar, it was absolutely breathtakingly … heartbreaking,” Biden said. “Our only regret is we could not even do more.”
Biden said both Japan and the United States were recovering — Japan from the earthquake and nuclear disaster and the United States from a weak economy, along with debt and deficit issues.
“There are voices in the world who are counting us out,” he said. “They’re making a very bad bet.”
Japan was Biden’s last stop on a three-country Asian tour that began last week in China.
The vice president sought to assure Chinese leaders that the U.S. economy is strong despite its downgrade by a debt-rating agency
“I wanted to make it clear that we want these relationships. We are a Pacific power. You are a Pacific power,” Biden said. “You are our ally … and your power economically and politically is something that we value a great deal.”
On Monday, Biden praised Mongolia for its transition to democracy and thanked the country for its contributions to military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.