SDF plane, transport ship ready to go to help Tonga

Two Air Self-Defense Force C-130 transport planes loaded with relief supplies were due to leave later on January 20 for Australia to help Tonga in the South Pacific.

The plane is dispatched after a massive eruption of an underwater volcano. The scale of the disaster remains murky as Tonga is so remote and communications remain disrupted.

Japan provides drinking water as well as equipment and machinery to dispose of volcanic ash. Assistance is provided by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi announced on January 20 that the transport plane and a ship carrying water and other items could leave later in the day.

The Maritime SDF Osumi transport vessel will carry heavy equipment such as a high pressure washing machine and a CH-47 helicopter used by the Ground SDF.

Officials said about 300 SDF personnel were joining the mission.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said during the Diet’s questioning in the Upper House on January 20 that the government “will work closely with related countries such as Australia and New Zealand” to help Tonga.

The Japanese government pledged on Jan. 19 to provide Tonga with emergency aid worth more than $1 million (115 million yen).

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