A giant earthquake (one of the five most powerful on record) set off a tsunami which devastated the northeastern coastline of Japan, destroying towns and forcing 300 000 people from their homes.
The earthquake and tsunami killed close to 16 000 people and wrecked the Fukushima nuclear plant. This was the most expensive natural disaster in history.
On Japan's request, the European Union activated its Civil Protection Mechanism which coordinated the EU assistance and ensured a joint, targeted European response. Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva was the first high-level international politician to visit Japan in the disaster's aftermath. She conveyed Europeans' solidarity with the Japanese people and reiterated the EU's commitment to continue helping Japan.
The European Commission compiled European offers of assistance and coordinated the logistics of its delivery.
In the weeks after the disaster, 19 countries participating in the EU Civil protection Mechanism provided in-kind and/or financial assistance to Japan. The European aid includes food, blankets, jerry cans and water tanks, beds, mattresses, sleeping bags, pumps and power generators (see factsheet for division by country).
Almost 400 tonnes of in-kind assistance have been channeled through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to Japan and distributed to the most affected areas.
An EU Civil Protection team was deployed to Japan days after the earthquake to coordinate the distribution of EU assistance.
The Commission also channelled € 10 million in humanitarian funding through the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). With this contribution, relief items have been provided to about 18 000 evacuees and others in need, in partnership with the Japanese Red Cross.
The EU response came as a consolidated European package, which was essential given the very difficult conditions on the ground and complex large-scale national relief operation.
The EU and the Japanese authorities continue their cooperation in humanitarian assistance policy, emergency relief operations and disaster preparedness and prevention.