Sen. John Kerry, the top U.S. lawmaker on the Senate foreign relations committee, said on Friday that we will spare no effort to aid rescue and recovery efforts in Japan after a massive earthquake in of the island nation's northeastern coast has already claimed hundreds of lives.

We will spare no effort now as rescue and recovery operations get underway in Japan, Kerry said, noting the U.S. and Japan had come to the aid of other countries in the region such as Burma, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

 He called Japan our close friend and ally, saying the U.S. would stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Japanese people during this time of need.

He also said our hearts and prayers go out to the people of Japan as they cope with the quake and tsunami, which has caused widespread damage in the region.

Earlier in the day, President Barack Obama offered assistance to Japan, and said the U.S. stood ready to help.