Japan Ministry of Defense


 
Prime Minister Hatoyama delivering his words to the International Relief Team to Haiti at the Presentation of the Flag of Unit.

Japan Defense Focus No.17

Prime Minister Hatoyama delivering his words to the International Relief Team to Haiti at the Presentation of the Flag of Unit.

 

CURRENT NEWS

The Disaster Assistance Efforts for the Haiti earthquake

Damaged houses in Haiti
Damaged houses in Haiti

Dispatch of International Disaster Relief Team Dispatch of JSDF to MINUSTAH


On January 12, (January 13 Japan time), the Republic of Haiti, located in the Caribbean Sea, was hit by a magnitude 7 earthquake, with the epicenter about 15km from Port-au-Prince, the capital of the country. As of February 25, the earthquake had claimed about 222,500 lives, about 310,000 injured persons, and rendered about 2,240,000 people homeless. 59,000 people remain missing. Of the Haitian Republic’s total population of 9.61 million, 3.7 million were affected by the quake. In total, approximately 100,500 houses were destroyed and 208,000 more were damaged.

The Ministry of Defense/Self-Defense Forces, in response to the Haitian government’s request, dispatched the Disaster Relief Medical Assistance Team. Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution to increase the staff members of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), and in response to the UN’s request for cooperation, Self-Defense Forces Engineer Unit was dispatched to Haiti based on the International Peace Cooperation Law.

The International Relief Team to Haiti removing rubble
The International Relief Team to Haiti removing rubble Medical Treatment by Medical Assistance Team in Leogane-1
Medical Treatment by Medical Assistance Team in Leogane-2
Medical Treatment by Medical Assistance Team in Leogane

Dispatch of the Disaster Relief Medical Assistance Team


Medical Assistance in Haiti

On January 14, in response to the Haiti earthquake, Ministry of Defense dispatched a member of the Self Defense Forces and a Ministry official to Haiti as a Disaster Relief Investigation Team, together with personnel from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Japan International Cooperation Agency. The next day, January 15, the Minister of Defense, Toshimi Kitazawa, after consultation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, issued a Disaster relief Team dispatch preparation order. Following thie direction, the return to Japan of an Air Self-Defense Force C-130H aircraft which had completed training in Arizona, U.S.A., was canceled and it was subsequently relocated from the Travis Air Force Base in California to the Homestead Air Force base in Miami, Florida, near the Republic of Haiti.

The survey team entered the Republic of Haiti on January 16, surveyed the Port-au-Prince Airport, and began coordinating with related organizations. On January 17, it was determined that the airport status allowed for safe operating conditions, and Minster of Defense Kitazawa gave an order to initiate transportation. The JSDF C-130H aircraft transported the Self-Defense Forces survey team and medical team of Japan International Cooperation Agency to Port-au-Prince airport. By its return flight, the C-130H aircraft transported the United States citizens and others who required emergency evacuation to Miami.

On January 20, the Minister of Defense ordered the dispatch of a JSDF Medical Assistance Team. In response, the Ground Self-Defense Force Middle Army Commander formed a Haiti Disaster Relief Medical Assistance Team headed by COL Makoto Shirakawa. The team comprised 40 medical and hygiene personnel (including 14 medical officers), 60 logistics support personnel and about 10 personnel as interpreters from the Ground Self-Defense Force Middle Army Headquarters and the Central Readiness Force.

The Assistance Team departed Narita Airport for Miami on a charter flight on January 21 and subsequently entered Haiti from Miami by C-130H aircraft. Once on station, the team took over the activities of the medical team of the Japan International Cooperation Agency and support organizations. From January 23, they began medical work in Leogane City, on the outskirts of the capital, Port-au-Prince. On January 21, an ASDF C-130H was dispatched to replace the same type of aircraft of the Air Self-Defense Force Haiti Disaster Relief Airlift Unit. The replacement aircraft took over the airlift mission between Florida and Haiti.

Leogane, the base of the Team’s activities, was about 10km west of the quake epicenter, and about 90% of the city’s buildings were destroyed. There was a constant influx of displaced people into Leogane from Port-au-Prince.

The Team conducted its medical activities from January 23 for 3 weeks. However, the number of patients with chronic diseases unrelated to the earthquake amounted to over 80% of the total at that time. Considering other factors such as the reopening of local medical establishments, the Minister of Defense issued an order for termination of the international disaster activities on February 12. After the termination of medical activities by the Assistance Team on February 13, the Japanese Red Cross Society took over medical support activities on February 14. Between January 23 and February 13, 2954 people were treated.

After termination of their activities, the Team flew by C-130H transport to Miami where they boarded a special government aircraft and returned to Japan on February 18.


Minister of Defense Kitazawa presented the flag of unit to unit commander Colonel Yamamoto at the ceremony of the presentation of the flag of unit.
Minister of Defense Kitazawa presented the flag of unit to unit commander Colonel Yamamoto at the ceremony of the presentation of the flag of unit. Prime Minister Hatoyama shaking hands with Colonel Yamamoto, the unit commander of the International Relief Team to Haiti.
Prime Minister Hatoyama shaking hands with Colonel Yamamoto, the unit commander of the International Relief Team to Haiti.

United Nations Peace Keeping Operations (PKO) Unit in Haiti

Prime Minister Hatoyama delivering his words to the International Relief Team to Haiti at the Presentation of the Flag of Unit.
Prime Minister Hatoyama delivering his words to the International Relief Team to Haiti at the Presentation of the Flag of Unit.

Background of the PKO Unit Dispatch

The political situation in the Republic of Haiti became unstable in 2004. Security had also worsened rapidly, leading to the president’s departure from the country. In the same year, the United Nations resolution No. 1542 established the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), to keep the law and order of the country.

The Republic of Haiti suffered immense damage from the earthquake, so on January 19, the United Nations Security Council, recognizing the seriousness of the matter and the necessity of emergency response, adopted on a resolution to increase MINUSTAH personnel by 3,500 in order to support the speedy recovery, reconstruction and stability of the nation.

Following the adoption of the resolution, the United Nations requested countries to rapidly dispatch support personnel. Japan decided to provide proper cooperation in response to this request to promote our human cooperation in the United Nations efforts for the international peace in order to take more responsibility for the peace and stability in the world. Therefore, on January 25, Japan conveyed to the Secretariat of the United Nations its intention to dispatch a Self-Defense Forces Engineering Unit. On the same day, the Minister of Defense issued an instruction for preparations for dispatching the units to the Chiefs of Staff.

On January 27, a survey team consisting of three officials from the Ministry of Defense and International Peace Cooperation Headquarters was dispatched to the stricken area. On January 29, in response to an official request for the accelerated dispatch of a Self-Defense Forces Engineering Unit from the United Nations Secretariat, the government decided to increase the size of the survey team. On January 30, an additional 11 personnel from the Ministry of Defense and 1 personnel from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were dispatched. The survey team assessed the state of roads and buildings in Haiti, and researched what type of equipment and materials were required for activities of the Engineering Unit.

Dispatch of the “ International Relief Team to Haiti”

On February 5, the Japanese government made a cabinet decision regarding the “Plan for Implementation of International Peace Cooperation Assignment in Haiti.” Following this decision, Defense Minister Kitazawa issued an “Order for Self-Defense Forces Operations for Implementation of International Peace Cooperation Assignment in Haiti.”

On the morning of February 6, a ceremony for the completion of the formation of the PKO Unit “International Relief Team to Haiti” composed primarily of personnel of the JGSDF Central Readiness Regiment was held at the Ministry of Defense with attendance by about 200 of the initial dispatch personnel from the Unit. On the afternoon of the same day, the presentation of the flags of the Unit took place, where Defense Minister Kitazawa presented the flags to Unit Commander COL. Yamamoto. The presentation ceremony at the Ministry of Defense Hall was attended by Prime Minister Hatoyama, Minister of Defense Kitazawa, the families of the Unit members to be dispatched, members of the National Diet, and senior members of the Ministry of Defense and Self-Defense Forces.

Prime Minister Hatoyama said “As human beings, we should help others who are in trouble. I would like you to show the presence of Japan to the world, as a country that protects human lives.” Defense Minister Kitazawa also expressed his “sincere hope that the unit members would contribute to the reconstruction of Haiti and the smooth operation of the United Nations in Haiti by using their skills acquired in regular training and disaster relief operations within Japan, and the experience acquired in United Nations peace keeping operations in Cambodia, East Timor, and other countries.” After that, the members of the unit departed the Ministry of Defense, after receiving a good send-off from their family members and guests, and departed from Narita and Haneda Airports for Miami. From Miami, approximately 200 first-dispatch Unit personnel were transported to Haiti via ASDF C-130H.

Commencement of Assistance to Reconstruction

The International Relief Team to Haiti was engaged mainly in rubble removal and land preparation. These tasks required about 150 vehicles (about 40 medium-sized bulldozers, hydraulic shovels, etc., about 90 trucks and trailers, and about 20 light armored vehicles) which were transported by an Antonov, a large-sized transport aircraft to the neighboring Dominican Republic and then overland by vehicles to the Self-Defense Forces Camp to Haiti.

Outline of the International Relief Team to Haiti is as follows.

Type:
Engineering Unit
Size:
About 350 personnel (including 190 personnel of the United Nations, and 160 support personnel of Self-Defense Forces.)
Equipments:
Approx. 150 vehicles
Weapons:
Self-defense weapons (pistols, small rifles, machine guns)
Type of
activities: Rubble removal, land preparation for suffered people camp sites, road repairs, small facility construction.
Active region:
environs of Port-au-Prince
Time-frame:
February 5 2010 — November 30, 2010 (Six months requested by the United Nations plus about three months for pulling out).

The first dispatched members completed their deployment of personnel and equipment by February 14, and on February 16, started land preparation activities in the MINUSTAH-controlled area in the area of the Port-au-Prince Airport.

The first dispatched members belonged mainly to the Central Readiness Regiment which can be rapidly deployed in an emergency such as an earthquake to engage in recovery operations. Their missions were to start engineering works immediately after arriving at Haiti and, concurrently, conduct ground works for a unit camp.

After that, the first dispatched members of the Unit were replaced with the approximately 350 second dispatched members and the International Relief Team to Haiti entered full engagement in its reconstruction mission.

The second dispatched members, who mainly came from the 5th Brigade and the Northern Engineering Corps, was formed into an engineering unit led by COL. Fukunaga. On February 18, Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister of Defense Shimba, Commander of Northern Army, Lieutenant General Sakai, family members of the Unit members and other guests attended a send-off ceremony at Camp Obihiro. The second dispatched members departed from Japan on February 24. Their deployment came to an end in late March.

 
JDF Mail Magazine Subscribe to the JDF e-mail magazine.Sign up