In response to a request from Japan, New Zealand was quick to deploy a team of 52 New Zealand Fire Service Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) workers to assist with rescue efforts following the Tohoku-Kanto earthquake. The team was deployed to Shizugawa, Minamisanriku, Miyagi-ken and worked with the Japan Fire Service, Japan Self-Defense Forces, Japan Police and Australian and Swiss rescue teams searching the area for survivors in bitterly cold conditions. Many of the team traveled directly from work in the Christchurch earthquake. (The Japanese government also sent a search and rescue team to Christchurch to assist in searching for survivors in that disaster). The New Zealand USAR team departed Japan on Saturday 19 March when their mission ended. This was the first time a New Zealand USAR team has been deployed overseas.
The New Zealand Government will also be providing NZ$1 million to support Red Cross disaster relief efforts in Japan.