Japanese Response to Indonesia's Forest Fires and Malaysia's Air Pollution

October 28, 1997

(1) Provision of Emergency Relief Supplies

On September 30, in response to requests from both Indonesia and Malaysia, Japan delivered 300 portable water jet extinguishers as emergency assistance to each country worth 35.4 million yen. Furthermore, on October 27, Japan delivered an emergency assistance package worth 74.8 million yen to Indonesia (This package consists of 300 portable water jet extinguishers, 50 portable water pump sets, 50 megaphones, and 50 wireless receivers).

(2) The Dispatch of a Japan Disaster Relief Team (First Mission)

From September 29 to October 10, in response to requests from both Indonesia and Malaysia, Japan dispatched a Japan Disaster Relief Expert Team consisting of six people (including doctors to each country, fire fighting experts to Indonesia and air pollution experts to Malaysia). After investigation and analysis in each of those countries, they delivered a report to each of the governments.

(3) The Provision of Smoke Protection Masks, etc.

In addition to the assistance cited above, on October 1, Japan has decided to support the Malaysian State of Sarawak as well as the Indonesia Red Cross in purchasing and transporting smoke protection masks through grass roots financial grants (approximately 9,000,000 yen to each country).

(4) The Dispatch of a Japan Disaster Relief Team (Second Mission)

In response to a request from Indonesia, from October 22, Japan dispatched again a Japan Disaster Relief Expert Team consisting of 43 persons including officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, and experts from local fire authorities for approximately three weeks. The team brought two helicopters from local fire departments in order to take measurements and monitor conditions from the air.

Response of the Governments

(1) The Malaysian Response

In Malaysia, the government has adopted a strategy of trying to produce artificial rain as a method for holding the haze in check. In response to the situation, the Malaysian government, with the consent of the Indonesian government, has dispatched a fire fighting team consisting of approximately 2,000 members to Indonesia. The most serious damage by haze in Malaysia has occurred in the state of Sarawak. On September 19, a state of emergency was declared for the first time in the history of the state (it was canceled on September 28). As a result, schools were closed, air service was suspended, government agencies and businesses were shut down, protective masks were worn by the people, and factories stopped operations.

(2) The Indonesian Response

  • The government is using satellite intelligence to confirm the hot spots.
  • Since September 17, air force planes have been utilized in the provinces of Riau, Jambi, and South Sumatra in order to scatter dry ice as a method of producing rain.
  • Air force planes are also trying to deal with the hot volcanic ash which is blowing from volcanoes on the island of Java and causing additional fires.
  • The Indonesian Government has announced the names of fifty companies that are believed to have partly caused the burning. In the event that these companies cannot provide a clear defense against these government charges, they may have their permits, which allow them to work in the lumber sector, revoked.
  • Currently, a fire fighting team consisting of 8,400 persons, the military, and the people of the region have all been mobilized and are now attempting to fight the fire.

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