SYDNEY: Two transport planes of Japan's Air Self-Defense Force arrived at an Australian air force base near Sydney on Thursday to help Australia fight ongoing massive bushfires.
The fires, which started some four months ago, have burned over 11 million hectares of forests mainly in eastern regions of the Oceanian country and killed 30 people. There is an estimate that as many as one billion animals, including koalas, have died.
The C-130H transport aircraft of the ASDF and some 70 members will start airlifting relief supplies and firefighters as soon as they get ready in their first-ever international emergency assistance mission associated with large-scale wildfires.
Japan became the fourth country to obtain the Australian government's consent on the dispatch of troops to help tackle the bushfires.
ASDF Col. Masashi Ota, mission commander, told reporters that he hopes to provide assistance considerate of the afflicted people's feelings.
Recalling the Royal Australian Air Force's relief operation in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Ota also said, "We'll put forth every effort to carry out our mission so we can return the favor."
RAAF Air Commodore Carl Newman expressed expectations for the ASDF team, saying, "They will conduct work across Australia, wherever assistance is required."