For the first time, the Japanese government says it will help to cover some of the cost of cleaning up tsunami debris on American and Canadian shores. Confirmed debris swept to sea by last year's Japanese tsunami began to wash up here this spring.
International law imposes no formal obligation on Japan to help. But now the spin from Tokyo is that the Japanese government wants to make a gesture of appreciation for the overseas support it has received since last year.
Here's chief cabinet secretary Osamu Fujimura speaking through a translator.
The Japanese government said it will help pay to clean up debris from the tsunami, such as this refrigerator found on Long Beach on July 5. Photo courtesy of Shelly Pollock
"The seaborne debris that has landed on other countries is a concern for the Japanese government."
Fujimura says details about how much money Japan might send to the United States and Canada could be worked out later this month.
"We will look at many options, look at the feasible options, and based on the requests of the United States and other countries right now we are adjusting the measures."
The Oregon State Parks department has already spent more than $200,000 for removal of tsunami debris, including a large concrete dock that washed ashore near Newport, Oregon.
Washington state's direct costs have been lower so far, though much of the anticipated debris has yet to arrive.
On the Web:
Fujimura press conference:
Oregon tsunami debris information:
Washington tsunami debris information: