According to news reports, the Abe government has decided to dispatch a force of up to 1,000 Self Defense Forces personnel to the Philippines to help in the rescue and recovery effort in the aftermath of 2013 Typhoon #30 --- a.k.a, Typhoon Haiyan, a.k.a. Typhoon Yolanda. For those who have been looking at the photographs and video footage of the disaster zones and thinking, "Isn't this humanitarian catastrophe exactly what the Japanese government and the SDF have been arguing the Osumi and the other helicopter carriers were built to handle?" you are vindicated -- the dispatch includes the Osumi, the Ise and the oiler Towada. (Link - J)
As for the Chinese response to the projected presence of 1,000 Japanese soldiers and sailors either on the ground in Leyte or on ships carrying out operations inside the territorial waters of the Philippines -- well, one can imagine that the military-security folks in Beijing must be rather busy this morning -- for all the wrong reasons, one might add.
Later - An earlier version of this post contained the extraordinary number of 10,000 SDF in the Philippines. Whether that was a bleary-eyed misread or an actual reading of a later corrected report, I cannot say.
Apologies for the confusion.
Later still - Arrghhh! Corrected the wrong place in the above. The current government plan involved 1,000 SDF. 1,000.
As you were.
And even later - Many thanks to reader "Brodie" who alerted me to the mistaken correction. Caught it I did before I read his email...but all corrections are always welcome ("And needed" - Editor).
And yet later still - As for the obvious question, "Why is it that the MSDF helicopter carriers have not already departed for the Philippines?" one can only guess that without their blessed Security Council to gather up their attention and focus it, neither the Prime Minister, the Chief Cabinet Minister nor the Defense Minister could possibly have the mental discipline to make the connection in between the likelihood of desperate need and the dispatch of relief ships.
Thankful should we be that the Liberal Democratic Party, the experienced, proactive, outward-looking party committed to wrenching Japan out of its passivity in order to transform it into a greater force for global good, is back in power.
Or so we have been told, so many times...