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Disaster relief base eyed for southern Okinawa

Date Posted: 2011-06-09

A disaster relief base in the southern reaches of Okinawa Prefecture appears to be on the horizon as the central government evaluates problems encountered during the March 11th earthquake and tsunami in eastern Japan.

Japanís Defense Minister says setting up an Asia-Pacific region disaster relief operations center is essential, and announced plans for establishing such a base on Shimoji Island in the Miyako islands group. Speaking at an Asian security forum in Singapore, Toshimi Kitazawa says Japan is ready to create a new emergency services base.

Kitazawa says Japanís southwestern islands are ideal for providing ready response to disasters throughout the region. He suggests that countries dispatching relief teams to large-scale disaster scenes could use the relief supplies and equipment pre-positioned on Shimoji Island.

The Japanese Defense Minister also told his Asian colleagues heís ready to discuss cooperation in the event of nuclear emergencies. He pointed to the need for introducing robots capable of operating in highly irradiated environments, noting the problems Japan has had dealing with the emergency at its Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant.

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