The government plans to dispatch 1,000 or so Self-Defense Force personnel, plus ships and aircraft, to the Philippines to assist in the relief efforts following the devastation left by Typhoon Haiyan.
The operation will be one of the nation’s largest international emergency relief missions to date, officials said Nov. 13. An advance team is already in the Philippines.
Typhoon Haiyan, known as Typhoon No. 30 in Japan, has killed 2,357 people and injured 3,853, government officials in Manila said Nov. 14. It has said 8 million people were affected and 530,000 people were evacuated.
The SDF will provide medical and transportation support.
Of immediate concern is the potential for the outbreak of infectious diseases while relief supplies and medical help have failed to reach many of the survivors due to a lack of adequate transportation.
The Maritime SDF will dispatch the destroyer Ise, the transport vessel Osumi and the refueling vessel Towada, while the Ground SDF will mobilize personnel and transport helicopters.
A team of Japanese medical personnel, primarily from the private sector, arrived on Leyte Island on Nov. 13. The Japanese Red Cross Society is also sending six doctors and nurses.
The SDF deployed 925 members to aid in the relief efforts after the December 2004 earthquake and tsunami off Sumatra, Indonesia, that devastated large swaths of coastline throughout the Indian Ocean.
At a news conference on Nov. 14, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government has confirmed that 49 of the 133 Japanese nationals living on the hardest-hit islands of Leyte and Samar are safe.
The Foreign Ministry is considering sending a senior official from the Japanese Embassy in Manila to the area to help confirm the safety of the remaining residents.
According to Takeshi Ishida, president of an association of Japanese expatriates in Cebu, about 25 Japanese citizens live in Tacloban, the capital of Leyte province. It is believed to be difficult to make contact given that many are retirees who do not work for companies or organizations.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama talked with his Philippine counterpart, Benigno Aquino, on Nov. 12 and promised immediate support. The U.S. government also pledged $20 million (2 billion yen) in emergency assistance.
(This article was written by Fumiaki Sonoyama in Tokyo and Manabu Sasaki in Manila.)
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