A mission taken up by the Self-Defense Forces in response to the Jan. 1 Noto Peninsula earthquake became the SDF's longest quake response program on Sunday, marking its 175th day.

Excluding ongoing decontamination work related to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident, the mission is now longer than the one following the quake and tsunami in the Tohoku region that triggered the crisis in the prefecture.

The record-long mission has highlighted the time-consuming work of restoring water supplies and sewage systems. The Defense Ministry plans to continue support based on requests from local communities.

The cumulative number of SDF members dispatched to areas affected by the Noto quake has reached some 1.13 million, with members having searched for missing people, transported goods and provided water supply support.

About 100 Ground Self-Defense Force members are continuing to support bathing services in Suzu, Ishikawa Prefecture, although the number of dispatched troops has dropped thanks to infrastructure restoration.

Gen. Yoshihide Yoshida, head of the SDF's Joint Staff, told a news conference Thursday that the scale of the mission after the Noto quake is smaller than at the time of the March 2011 catastrophe but there remain areas where only the SDF can offer support.

"We will continue to provide careful support to meet the needs" of the affected people, he said.