Japan said Wednesday it will provide more than $1 million and relief supplies to disaster-hit Tonga after an undersea volcanic eruption and tsunami waves caused by it left at least three people dead and caused major damage on the Pacific island.
Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihiko Isozaki said the government is considering sending drinking water and equipment for removing volcanic ash, among other supplies, using the country's Self-Defense Forces.
"Many Tongan people are suffering from the disaster, which has caused heavy damage, so we will offer as much support as possible," Isozaki told reporters, adding that Japan will closely cooperate with Australia and New Zealand on restoration and reconstruction work in Tonga.
In a related move, senior vice defense minister Makoto Oniki said the Defense Ministry will dispatch liaison officers to Australia as soon as Thursday to gather information there and coordinate with other supporting countries.
The moves came a day after Tokyo said it received a request for support from the government of Tonga following Saturday's volcanic eruption off the South Pacific island nation that sent tsunami waves across the Pacific.
Aid efforts for Tonga are being hampered by the thick layer of ash that fell on the nation including on its main airport's runway, which is preventing aircraft carrying humanitarian assistance from landing, according to the New Zealand Foreign Ministry.