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Japan to provide 1,500 SDF personnel for three months
Monday, November 12, 2001 at 09:30 JST TOKYO — Japan has agreed with the United States to provide about 1,500 Self-Defense Forces (SDF) personnel for about three months to lend noncombat support to the U.S.-led antiterrorism military campaign, Japanese newspapers reported Sunday.
The two countries have also agreed that Japan will transport supplies by sea to U.S. bases on the island of Diego Garcia, a British territory in the Indian Ocean, but that it will not transport weapons or ammunition, the Tokyo Shimbun said.
The government is expected to approve this week a plan outlining Japan's total military contribution to the U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan.
That contribution will include six or seven naval vessels carrying about 1,400 sailors, plus C-130 military transport aircraft and medical teams from the Ground Self-Defense Force, the Yomiuri newspaper reported, citing a draft copy of the plan.
Three warships have already left Japan on a reconnaissance mission to scout sea lanes and gather other information for military officials planning the operation.
That naval contingent, which left on Friday, will be joined soon by three or four more vessels and be assigned to carry supplies and fuel for U.S. forces and their allies, the Yomiuri said.
The medical teams will be dispatched to Pakistan to help with the flood of refugees pouring across the border from neighboring Afghanistan, it said.
But they will be sent to hospitals in northern Pakistan rather than to refugee camps along the border, because the new law authorizing Japanese military personnel to provide non-combat support carries the provision that they will not be dispatched to areas where fighting could take place. (Compiled from wire reports)
-- Martin Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 11, 2001