New US envoy Kennedy highlights commitment to Asia in visit to Japan's disaster zone

Just days after arriving in Japan as the new U.S. ambassador, Caroline Kennedy is visiting areas devastated by the 2011 tsunami to meet survivors and highlight America's commitment to supporting its ally.

The daughter of President John F. Kennedy is visiting a military base, a school and a temporary housing complex in the northeastern cities of Sendai and Ishinomaki on Monday, the first day of a two-day visit. Both cities were severely damaged by the tsunami, which was triggered by a magnitude-9 earthquake. The disaster left more than 18,000 people dead or missing.

Rebuilding has barely begun. Makeshift stores, restaurants, car washes and laundries have been set up in areas flattened by the tsunami. Tens of thousands of people remain in temporary, prefabricated housing more than 2 1/2 years later.