The Maritime Self-Defense Force is actively involved in international disaster relief operations to make humanitarian contributions and improve the international security environment. Regarding the dispatch of our forces abroad, we will continue our active involvement in international disaster relief operations that utilize our functions and capabilities, taking into consideration the nature of the requests for dispatch from the national government or other institution in the country where the damage occurred, and the extent of the damage incurred.

International disaster relief operations for the large earthquake offshore Sumatra in Indonesia and the tsunami in the Indian Ocean

A large earthquake offshore to the west of Sumatra in Indonesia on December 26th, 2004, and its subsequent tsunami caused severe damage, primarily to the area near the epicenter.
The Thai government requested assistance from Japan on the 27th, and the Maritime Self-Defense Force sent its three ships in the Indian Ocean, namely Destroyers “KIRISHIMA” and “TAKANAMI” and Supply Ships “HAMANA”, returning to Japan after being relieved from their duties related to the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law, to Thailand on the same day. As soon as they arrived offshore Phuket of Thailand, the three ships and the ship-borne helicopter began searching for disaster victims and conducting rescue operations. They recovered 57 bodies from the sea and returned them to the Thai authorities. Although the rescue operations were extremely difficult, the crew maintained high level of morale to accomplish their missions. Some crewmembers could not help holding back their tears during the operations as first body recovered was a 4 to 5-year-old girl, who reminded their own children.
On January 12th, 2005 Transport Ship “KUNISAKI”, Destroyers “KURAMA” and Supply ship “TOKIWA” were dispatched to Sumatra to provide maritime transport for the Ground Self Defense Force's International Disaster Relief Operations, support for its activities and transport of its relief materials.

●On August 4, 2005, “AS28”, a midget submarine from the Russian Pacific Fleet, became incapable of floating off the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East. Seven crew members were trapped inside.

●On the 5th, the following day, the Maritime Self-Defense Force dispatched a four ship unit consisting of Submarine Tender Depot and Rescue Ship “CHIYODA”, Minesweeper Tender “URAGA” and Minesweepers “UWAJIMA” and “YUGESHIMA” to the site only two hours after the request was made by Russia to Japan.

●The crew of “AS28” was rescued by a British rescue team dispatched by aircraft on August 7th.

●The Russian president expressed appreciation for the rapid Japanese response, and awarded a decoration on 13 January 2006 to Rear Admiral Kenji Kinoshita, Commander, Submarine Flotilla 2, who led the JMSDF’s deployment force for this international rescue operation.

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