Sunday December 10, 2017

Self-Defense Forces (SDF) of Japan May Initiate Combat to Rescue Civilians, Allies in South Sudan from Mid – 2016

South Sudanese troops loyal to President Salva Kiir pictured at Bor airport after they re-captured it from rebel forces. (Credit: AFP)

JUBA – Japanese peacekeeping troops will be allowed to launch offensives against enemy units in rescue missions in South Sudan, probably starting mid-2016, in what would be the first application of the highly unpopular new security legislation, sources disclosed.

Self-Defense Forces personnel thus far were only allowed to use weapons to protect themselves and people near them.

The Ground SDF has dispatched four senior officials and 350 engineers to South Sudan for U.N. peacekeeping operations.

They repair roads and offer medical support in the central African nation’s capital of Juba, but from May 2016 at the earliest, they will be allowed to do a lot more than that.

The revision to the law on cooperation with U.N. peacekeeping operations, which was included in the new security legislation package that passed the Diet on Sept. 19, will enable them to go on the offensive to rescue citizens and troops of other countries far from their current base.

South Sudan, which became independent from Sudan in 2011 but is engulfed in civil war, is the only place where Japanese peacekeeping troops are currently stationed.

When Defense Minister Gen Nakatani visited South Sudan in January, he expressed his intention to widen the role of GSDF troops there.

“(Japanese personnel) have an ability to do more things, and they also still have many things to do,” Nakatani said, referring to the relatively stable security situation in and around the capital city.

The Abe administration initially planned to allow the GSDF to engage in rescue operations from this November, when the current servicemen will be relieved with other personnel. Japanese troops working in South Sudan are rotated every six months.

But because the new security legislation won’t come into effect until March 2016 at the latest, the government has decided to allow the GSDF to send its members to the aid of civilians and foreign units under attack from May next year.

Another reason Japan postponed the expansion of the GSDF role in South Sudan was that the revision of the rules of engagement for GSDF members that stipulate how weapons are to be used, as well as training for rescue missions, is expected to take more time.

Under the new security legislation, armed SDF servicemen can participate in public security operations, such as patrolling and inspecting vehicles. In these cases, however, the SDF needs to send infantry troops that are specially trained for such activities.

The Abe Cabinet is expected to finalize its new plans for GSDF missions in South Sudan as early as February, after carefully assessing the situation based on requests from the United Nations.
Source: The Asahi Shimbun


Times Wire Staff
Filed in

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