China OK with SDF quake help

by Reiji Yoshida

YOKOHAMA — China has asked Japan to help transport emergency supplies to the earthquake refugees in Sichuan Province and signaled that Self-Defense Forces aircraft would be welcome as well, Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura said Wednesday.

Tents, blankets and medical supplies are probably key items China is seeking, Komura said.

Kyodo News quoted government sources as saying later in the day that an Air Self-Defense Force C-130 transport may be sent later this week.

ASDF aircraft over China would be the first Japanese military mission to the country since the war.

The SDF can and has been dispatched overseas for noncombat operations, including for disaster relief missions and U.N.-led peacekeeping operations.

Earlier in the day, Komura had said an ASDF dispatch is only “under consideration” and the decision would be up to Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda.

“(China) is not asking (Japan) to transport (specifically) with SDF airplanes, but is saying SDF planes would be fine, too. That’s what I know,” Komura said in Yokohama.