The government on Tuesday ordered six Air Self-Defense Force transport planes standing by in Singapore for the possible evacuation of Japanese nationals in Indonesia to return home.

Foreign Minister Keizo Obuchi finalized the decision to withdraw the planes after observing that the political and social situation in Indonesia had stabilized. It was immediately delivered to Defense Agency chief Fumio Kyuma, who then ordered the six C-130 Hercules to return to Japan.

The six planes and nine ASDF staff members are expected to leave Singapore this afternoon and will arrive tomorrow at the ASDF’s Komaki base in Aichi Prefecture via Manila. The decision follows a meeting Tuesday morning of ministers involved in the evacuation mission.

“The situation in Indonesia is basically starting to calm down,” Obuchi was quoted as telling the Cabinet meeting. “Unless there are major changes in the local situation, I think it is appropriate to decide today to withdraw the planes and ships.”

Obuchi also asked the Transport Ministry to have two patrol ships of the Maritime Safety Agency standing by in Singapore withdrawn. Echigo, one of the two ships, had just entered port Monday evening.

However, the ministry has no immediate plans to cancel the danger warning issued for Japanese nationals in Indonesia. The warning is the second strongest on the ministry’s five-tier scale.

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