• Kyodo

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A Ground Self-Defense Force officer who served in southern Iraq is now supervising the distribution of medical supplies for tsunami victims on Indonesia’s Sumatra Island.

Capt. Takashi Hotta, 31, is a pharmacist by training. He is currently stationed at an airport in Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh Province, which was devastated by the Dec. 26 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

Hotta, who did research on osteoporosis at Hokuriku University’s graduate school, left a pharmaceutical company after only two years.

He saw GSDF troops on TV heading to a humanitarian mission in Honduras after it had been hit by a hurricane. He had been toying with the idea of becoming a civil servant at the time and joined the GSDF in 1999.

As a member of the sanitation unit of the GSDF’s 7th Division based in Chitose, Hokkaido, Hotta was stationed in the southern Iraqi city of Samawah from June to August last year.

Shortly after he decided to get married, he was tapped to serve as a member of an emergency relief team for the tsunami victims.

Although Hotta and his fiancee had decided to register their marriage this Monday, he had to leave Japan on Jan. 14 after writing down his name on the marriage registration form and left it for his fiancee to complete.

“I barely talked with local people in Iraq, but here I can see patients,” he said. “It’s been nearly a month since the earthquake. We need more internal medicine from now on rather than medicine for external injuries.

“It’s inconspicuous work, but I find it very fulfilling,” Hotta said.

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