A Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force vessel carrying the bulk of SDF personnel to join emergency response and relief operations teams in the typhoon-hit Philippines arrived Friday near the worst-hit island of Leyte.
Cmdr. Takashi Inoue, deputy director of public affairs for the MSDF, told reporters that the Ise destroyer has arrived at Leyte Gulf carrying the majority of the 1,180 SDF personnel sent to the Philippines in addition to relief goods.
Regional military commander Lt. Gen. Roy Deveraturda met with Rear Adm. Hisanori Sato and expressed his gratitude.
"The outpouring of support is really overwhelming. Just like all other help extended to us, we are very grateful and the (Japanese) contribution will help a lot in the speedy recovery of the affected areas," Deveraturda told reporters after the meeting.
Japan has sent three vessels to the Philippines, with the Osumi transport vessel and Towada supply vessel expected to arrive in Leyte shortly.
The ships will be used to provide medical services and transport relief supplies.
"They will take part in the recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation. They are bringing in heavy equipment, like bulldozers, that will help in clearing secondary roads, provide temporary shelter, and other engineering aspects of recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction," Deveraturda said, adding that the Japanese team includes medical doctors.
The death toll from Typhoon Haiyan has risen to more than 5,000, thousands of people are still missing and hundreds of thousands of people were displaced, mainly in the central part of the country.
Some residents who were alive during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, particularly in Leyte, in the 1940s until their defeat ending World War II said they welcome the coming of Japanese forces for humanitarian reasons.
"It's good that they are helping us," Concepcion Badilla, 83, of Tacloban City, said.
Interviewed by Kyodo News at the Leyte National High School in Tacloban that has been turned into an evacuation center for survivors of Haiyan, Badilla said she has nothing against the Japanese because she did not experience any maltreatment during the occupation.
"Our house was near a Japanese military camp during that time. We went along well with them. In fact, I was friends with the civilian Japanese guy who was guarding the military supplies," Badilla said.
Melecio Quintero, 80, another evacuee at the same school, shared the same sentiment.
And Gloria Malate, 78, from Tolosa south of Tacloban, said, "We are thankful for them coming to help."