National

ASDF on mission to deliver Ebola suits to West Africa

by Masaaki Kameda

Staff Writer

The government decided on Friday to deliver 20,000 protective suits to West Africa via the Air Self-Defense Force next week, part of a donation of 700,000 suits to help Ebola-hit countries in the region.

The delivery will mark the first time an SDF plane has been dispatched as part of the international effort to combat the deadly disease, which is ravaging the region.

“We will supply about 700,000 sets of protective gear, based on requests from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Mali,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Friday at his regular news conference.

“Of them, 20,000 will be delivered to Accra, Ghana, where the U.N. Mission for Ebola Emergency Response is headquartered, by an SDF aircraft in light of the request to transport them quickly,” Suga said. The delivery mission is part of the support Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged at the U.N. General Assembly in September, according to Suga.

Defense Minister Akinori Eto said the KC-767 transport plane designated to carry the gloves, masks and suits will depart from Komaki air base in Aichi Prefecture on Dec. 6.

“The Defense Ministry decided that the dispatch of an SDF unit will contribute to an effective effort” in West Africa, Eto said.

Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea have been hit hard by Ebola, but Ghana has not yet been infected.

Eto said the 10 ASDF personnel will be used for the mission. In addition, one civilian and three SDF personnel from the Defense Ministry will go to the Ghanian capital to coordinate with officials from the U.N. mission, the Japanese Foreign Ministry and the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

The remaining 680,000 protective suits will be transported to Dubai by JICA via commercial transport and handed over to the World Health Organization, Eto said