There have been three notable pieces of news regarding SDF deployments in the past week:

Tornado Relief

Members of the GSDF 1st Engineer Brigade at work in the Kitajo region of Tsukuba on May 7th

Members of the GSDF 1st Engineer Brigade at work in the Kitajo region of Tsukuba on May 7th (Source: Asagumo)

A tornado struck the city of Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, as well as other locations in Ibaraki and Tochigi on Sunday May 6th, damaging around 2000 buildings with surprisingly only one death (a 14 year old boy) and over 50 injured. The SDF were called in to help with the search and rescue work.

The Ibaraki governor officially requested SDF support from the Chief of the GSDF Engineer School at Camp Katsuta at 4:45 pm on May 6th. A first response unit of the GSDF 1st Engineer Brigade were dispatched to Tsukuba from Camp Koga, Ibaraki Prefecture, consisting of around 30 men and four vehicles under the leadership of 1st Lt. Shunsuke Kashiwabara.

A disaster relief unit conducted search and rescue operations in the damaged Kitajo region of Tsukuba from just after 10 a.m. the next day to 4 p.m in collaboration with the police and fire departments.

A Ch-47 Chinook carried Senior Vice Minister Yoshinori Suematsu to Tsukuba from the MoD headquarters in Ichigaya ahead of a government inquiry into the disaster.

At 11 a.m. on May 8th, the SDF’s activities in relation to the tornadoes came to an end.


South Sudan Peacekeeping

Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka ordered the preparation of a further 330 engineers to head to South Sudan on Friday May 11th. This follows a government fact-finding mission report that deemed secure the area in which the first SDF deployment are operating. The boost in personnel will increase the SDF’s ability to complete their primary mission, building the infrastructure of the war-ravaged nation. The second phase will deploy on June 8th, replacing the first deploment, and will run until the middle of May, at which point they will be relieved by a third deployment.


Anti-Piracy Dispatch

The Igazuchi departs Yokosuka as it heads off to Somalia, May 11th

The Igazuchi departs Yokosuka as it heads off to Somalia, May 11th (Source: Kanaloco)

On Saturday 12th May, Sawagiri (DD-157) was dispatched from Sasebo Naval Base to continue the MSDF’s anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. The 3,550-ton destroyer, carrying a crew of around 190 under the command of Captain Koichi Yamazaki of the MSDF 5th Fleet Escort Force, is the 12th dispatch to the anti-piracy mission off the coast of Somalia, and it will be its second time on deployment in the region. It conducted its previous tour from January 30th 2010 to June 1st of the same year, escorting 283 ships alongside the Oonami (DD-111).

This time, she will be working alongside the Ikazuchi (DD-107) which departed Yokosuka Naval Base on Friday 11th May. 400 Japanese Coast Guard officers are also being dispatched. It will take approximately three weeks to arrive in the Gulf of Aden, at which stage it will relieve the 11th dispatch (the Murasame and Harusame) which have been deployed since January 21st.

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A former contributor to World Intelligence (Japan Military Review), James Simpson joined Japan Security Watch in 2011, migrating with his blog Defending Japan. He has a Masters in Security Studies from Aberystwyth University and is currently living in Kawasaki, Japan. His primary interests include the so-called 'normalization' of Japanese security (i.e. militarization), and the political impact of the abduction issue with North Korea.
James Simpson has 254 post(s) on Japan Security Watch