A Self-Defense Forces plane left for Djibouti on Friday to prepare to evacuate Japanese nationals from Sudan, where military clashes are intensifying.

The C-130 transport airplane departed from Komaki Air Base in Aichi Prefecture to stand by in Djibouti to extricate 63 Japanese citizens in Sudan, most of whom are in the capital, Khartoum.

Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said during a news conference that a C-2 transport aircraft and a KC-767 aerial refueling plane are also expected to leave Japan for Djibouti as soon as they are ready.

Relevant ministries and agencies will "work together to secure the safety" of Japanese nationals, he said.

In 2011, the SDF set up a base in Djibouti, about 1,200 kilometers southeast of Khartoum, as part of an anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia.

Hamada indicated that the government might also try to evacuate Japanese citizens by land.

With fighting escalating in Sudan, it remains unclear when the planes will head to the East African country. The conflict has left more than 330 people dead and over 3,200 others injured, according to the World Health Organization.

Fighting between two rival factions, the Sudanese armed forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, has triggered a closure of Khartoum International Airport, making it difficult for people to be evacuated from the country.

Following Hamada's instruction on Thursday to dispatch SDF aircraft, the Defense Ministry sent five liaison officers to Djibouti, while forming a joint task force consisting of around 370 personnel from the Ground and Air Self-Defense forces.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno has said the government has kept in touch with all of the Japanese people living in Sudan, adding that no injuries have been reported so far.