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Thursday, June 1, 2006

SDF medics Java-bound to join in quake relief


Staff writer

Thirty-six Ground Self-Defense Force members, mainly medical staff, were set to be dispatched Thursday to central Java in Indonesia to assist in relief efforts in the aftermath of Saturday's deadly quake, according to Defense Agency officials.

The entire team will be consist of 49 people, including 20 medics, with the addition of 13 members of an advance team that arrived on the island Wednesday on a fact-finding mission to inspect the postquake situation, the officials added.

Based on a law on international disaster relief activities, Tokyo will send the SDF unit to the disaster zone, where more than 5,800 people were believed killed.

"We will consider whether to send another unit after examining the situation and figuring out (the relief) needs there," Defense Agency chief Fukushiro Nukaga earlier told the day's House of Representatives session of the special committee on reconstruction aid to Iraq, suggesting that more SDF personnel may follow.

Foreign Minister Taro Aso told the same committee session that Jakarta said it badly needs medical aid workers, and that military medical personnel would also be acceptable.

Defense Agency officials said two Air Self-Defense Force C-130 transport planes are expected to carry the SDF relief unit and supplies.



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