Japan mulls dispatch of Ebola liaison officer to U.S. command in Germany


The Defense Ministry may dispatch a member of the Self-Defense Forces to the U.S. military command in Germany to serve as a liaison officer in the search for countermeasures to Ebola, government sources said Sunday.

By gathering information at the U.S. Africa Command in Stuttgart, the ministry hopes to identify areas in which the SDF can contribute in combating the spread of the deadly infectious disease from its epicenter in West Africa.

A separate Ebola outbreak is underway in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is adjacent to South Sudan, the new country where a 400-strong SDF engineering unit is participating in a U.N. mission to help build infrastructure. No infections have been reported.

Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, whose country is being decimated by the West Africa outbreak, has asked the SDF to dispatch an emergency medical team to help handle the surging tally of Ebola patients.

But a senior Defense Ministry official suggested that the prospects of sending another SDF unit to Africa are low for the time being, saying there is a “limit to what the SDF could do, given its capacity.”

Following a request from U.S. President Barack Obama last week, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told participants at the Asia-Europe Meeting in Italy last week that he would consider providing additional financial aid for Ebola countermeasures.

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