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Self-Defense Forces aircraft will fly humanitarian aid supplies to East Timorese refugees in West Timor, Foreign Minister Yohei Kono formally announced Friday.

The decision was made in response to appeals for aid by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Kono told reporters after the day’s Cabinet meeting, during which the request was approved.

Under the operation, 150 ASDF members and six coordinators will transport aid supplies from Surabaya on Java Island to Kupang in West Timor using five aircraft.

The first team will leave for Indonesia on Monday and the main body is to depart Wednesday. They are expected to engage in transport work until February.

“I will be glad if the operation is useful as an international contribution suitable for Japan,” Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi told reporters. “I think Asian countries will also realize the importance of such international cooperation provided by Japan.”

Japan has already committed $2 million in humanitarian assistance for East Timor. Kono said the government will actively consider further refugee aid.

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