Japan to accept earthquake relief from US only

TOKYO: Japan plans to accept a relief team from the United States but no aid from other governments, the daily Nikkei reported on Friday, four days after an earthquake killed 91 people and forced the evacuation of thousands in the Noto peninsula.
The US and Japan are discussing how and when the US would dispatch troops to the Noto peninsula, the Nikkei report said.
“We are not accepting any personnel or material aid at the moment given the situation on the ground and the efforts that would be required to receive them,” Japan’s top spokesperson Yoshimasa Hayashi said on Friday.
He added that he would not comment on what discussions have taken place with the US
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said there were offers for help and messages of condolence from governments including Taiwan and China.
The full extent of casualties and damage from the earthquake that struck on New Year’s Day remains unclear, with rescue teams struggling to reach hard-hit areas due to severed roads and damaged infrastructure.
But with more than 200 people still unaccounted for, the disaster is likely the deadliest since 2016 and could be the worst since a massive earthquake and tsunami struck the east coast of Japan in 2011.
The US armed forces was deeply involved in disaster relief efforts in the 2011 earthquake, providing over 24,000 personnel with 24 ships and 189 aircraft.
“We may receive assistance in the future, but nothing has been decided at this time,” a spokesperson for Japan’s Ministry of Defence told Reuters on Friday.
The US forces have about 54,000 personnel in Japan, making Japan the host of the biggest US military presence abroad, according to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
At least 100 hectares (247 acres) of land also appears to be flooded from a tsunami triggered by the earthquake, the daily Asahi newspaper reported citing Japan’s transport ministry.
“We still don’t have a full picture, and it’s likely that the area flooded by the tsunami could spread,” an unnamed transport ministry official said according to the report.
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