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Japan's low-profile military steps up during flood rescue (+video)

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Japan’s once low-profile Self-Defense Forces (SDF), or military, has been at the forefront of the rescue operation after record rainfalls caused flooding that has left some 25 dead and seven more missing. These latest rescue efforts, combined with the SDF's response to last year's devastating earthquake and tsunami, are shining a more positive light on Japan’s military than it has seen in decades.

The worst-affected areas of Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands, saw as much as 32 inches of rain in what has been named the “North Kyushu Floods.” One mountainous area of Fukuoka Prefecture is still being airlifted supplies by the SDF, while thousands more remain in evacuation centers or without power. Up to 400,000 people were ordered or advised to leave their homes in Kyushu at the height of the storms over the weekend.

Images of torrents of water sweeping away houses and cars recalled memories of last March’s tsunami that took the lives of nearly 20,000 on the northeast coast of Japan’s main island. And as they did after that disaster, the SDF has been rescuing those stranded by the recent raging waters, searching for the missing, and clearing roads, drawing more positive reactions from a citizenry and media formerly wary of praising the military.  

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