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Japanese Ambassador Watches Crisis Unfold

LIANE HANSEN, host:

Japanese citizens around the world are watching as this crisis unfolds. At their embassy here in Washington, the Japanese flag is flying at half-staff. Ichiro Fujisaki, the Japanese ambassador to the United States, is in our studios. Good morning.

Ambassador ICHIRO FUJISAKI (Japanese Ambassador to the United States): Good morning, Ms. Hansen.

HANSEN: Tell us, how is the Japanese government managing this disaster?

Amb. FUJISAKI: The situation is still rather unclear and the death toll, those who are missing, are increasing almost every hour. In these cases, we have to be thinking of three things mainly: First, save as many human lives as possible; second, prevent proliferation of fire and also prevent big accidents - for example, nuclear power plant accidents; third, secure basic human needs for the people.

And this is what exactly we are doing. And in order to do that, we have to keep in mind three things: That is speed - we have to be very quick, because in order to save human lives, we really need velocity; second, we have to mobilize every means and all the forces we have; and lastly, we have to do it cautiously as well, calmly, not to be overexcited and try to really manage the situation.

HANSEN: What kind of international aid does Japan need?

Amb. FUJISAKI: We are very grateful to international siding, including the United States, for the help, assistance that they are providing. American people are really caring about the situation and showing their friendship towards our country and we are very grateful for that.

HANSEN: Can you possibly calculate the economic impact this disaster will have on Japan?

Amb. FUJISAKI: No, I cannot at this juncture because, I think, as I said, the top priority here now is to search and rescue human lives. And the Japanese government is totally concentrating on saving human lives.

HANSEN: This must be devastating for you personally. Have you been in touch with your own family and friends?

Amb. FUJISAKI: Yes, I have been calling Tokyo and sending emails to my friends. And some of my friends, I cannot connect. One of the reason I think is telephone service, and there is no service in that area. It's down, so I hope they are safe. And it is saddening that the death numbers and the missing numbers are still increasing very rapidly.

HANSEN: Ichiro Fujisaki is the Japanese ambassador to the United States. Thank you so much for coming in, and our thoughts are with you and your countrymen.

Amb. FUJISAKI: Thank you very much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.