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Japan Times, 22 October 2004, Page 2: Typhoon keeps SDF busy across nation

Jiji Press: The Self-Defense Forces have been busy this year with natural disaster relief operations, with a record number of typhoons striking Japan and causing floods and mudslides across the nation.

So far this year, the SDF has deployed some 11,000 troops for search and rescue operations, as well as water supply and other relief activities.

The number is nearly double that for the whole of last year.

The SDF has received requests for disaster relief from 15 prefectures, compared with four last year. All of last year's cases involved water-related disasters.

Surging demand for SDF disaster relief work reflects the devastating floods triggered by a weeklong spell of torrential rain in the Hokuriku region in July, as well as damage from powerful typhoons that struck the archipelago.

In July's Hokuriku disaster alone, nearly 7,000 SDF troops were deployed for rescue and relief operations in Niigata and Fukui prefectures.

The operations, which ranged from search and rescue to distributing clean water and disinfecting contaminated areas, lasted as long as two weeks.

Meanwhile, Typhoon Tokage, the 10th to make landfall this season, struck wide areas from the Kansai region in western Japan to the Kanto eastern region on Wednesday through early Thursday morning, killing at least 57 people.

As of early Thursday, Miyazaki, Kagawa, Okayama, Kyoto, Hyogo, and Gifu prefectures had sought SDF disaster relief assistance for the havoc caused by Tokage.

The previous record for the number of typhoons making landfall in a season was six. Generally, only two or three typhoons hit Japan directly.