JSDF Disaster Relief Activities Associated with Heavy Rain in July 2020
In response to disaster relief requests from affected local authorities following heavy rains in July 2020, the Ministry of Defense/Japan Self-Defense Forces (MOD/JSDF) dispatched the Ground, Maritime and Air Self-Defense Forces (hereinafter JGSDF, JMSDF, JASDF) units to the affected areas. They have engaged in lifesaving activities such as searching for missing persons, rescue by helicopters or boats in isolated areas, and rescue by utilizing civil engineering equipment. In addition, the JSDF has performed operations that require its readiness and expertise, such as food and water supply assistance, bathing support, transportation of supplies, medical support, epidemic prevention support, and disaster waste disposal, to complement the roles of local authorities.
In southern Kyushu, including Kumamoto and Kagoshima Prefectures, record-breaking rainfalls started on the night of July 3rd. A string of flooding and landslides occurred along the Kuma River in Kumamoto and the Chikugo River in Oita. On July 4th, the Governor of Kumamoto Prefecture submitted a disaster relief dispatch request to the JGSDF 8th Division Commanding General (DCG). In response, the MOD/JSDF readied 10,000 personnel (including logistics support units) which consisted of three JSDF components, mainly from the JGSDF Western Army. The response units were then sent to the affected areas.
On the same day, the 8th Aviation unit and Western Aviation Group of the JGSDF, the Fleet Air Wing 22 of the JMSDF, and the Western Air Defense Force, Ashiya and Nyutabaru Air Rescue Squadrons of the JASDF began airlift rescue operations by helicopters in Yatsushiro City, Hitoyoshi City, and Kuma Village in Kumamoto Prefecture. The JGSDF 8th Division carried out rescue activities on the ground in Hitoyoshi City, Yatsushiro City and Ashikita Town. The JASDF 9th AC&W Squadron removed landslide debris in Kagoshima Prefecture.
On July 5th, Minister Kono ordered up to 200 JSDF Ready Reserve Personnel to convene based on a Cabinet decision to call up the Personnel. The decision marks the sixth time that JSDF Ready Reserve Personnel were mobilized since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Their most recent dispatch was for the disaster-relief mission to respond to Typhoon Hagibis last year.
In addition, on July 7th, the Governors of Fukuoka and Oita Prefectures issued disaster relief dispatch requests to the 4th DCG of the JGSDF. On the same day, the MOD/JSDF decided to boost the number of personnel who would be assigned to the disaster relief activities by up to 20,000 personnel. From the 7th, the JGSDF accepted the JSDF Ready Reserve Personnel, and from the 8th, they started their activities in the JGSDF Western Army logistic support unit.
On July 9th, an order was issued to mobilize up to 400 JSDF Ready Reserve Personnel and up to 100 Reserve Personnel.
On July 13th, the Governor of Yamaguchi issued disaster relief dispatch request to the commander of Western Army Defense Force.
As of July 20th, JSDF ground forces and aircraft have rescued a total of 1,775 people. Approx. 2,130 personnel and 8 aircrafts have engaged in disaster relief activities, such as search and rescue operations for missing persons, disposal of disaster waste, and livelihood support.