• Kyodo

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Japan is preparing to have the Air Self-Defense Force deliver protective suits to West Africa next month to help Ebola-hit countries contain the outbreak and is exploring whether its planes can be used to bring infected Japanese back to Japan.

The shipments would mark the first use of the Self-Defense Forces to combat the deadly disease, government sources said Wednesday.

The government is considering sending the supplies in early December to Ghana, which has not yet been unaffected by the infectious disease, and entrusting U.N. agencies and other bodies to deliver them by land to areas hit by the virus.

In September, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to send 500,000 protective suits to West Africa and 20,000 have been delivered so far by commercial aircraft.

The ASDF aircraft are expected to depart from Komaki air base in Aichi Prefecture but Japan has not yet decided which country will get the gear, the sources said.

Officials of the Foreign Ministry and the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the government-backed aid agency, will also be dispatched to teach locals how to use the suits, they added.

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