May 29, 2017
Tokyo- The administration of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is hurrying to find a UN peacekeeping mission where the Self-Defense Forces can participate, following the recent completion of Ground SDF troops' engineering mission in South Sudan.
Under the banner of "proactive pacifism," the Abe government needs to clarify its intention to continue making international contributions, informed sources said.
Ensuring the safety of SDF troops remains a challenge, as they are banned from using force overseas. The safety issue raised questions about the GSDF participation in the UN Mission in South Sudan, or UNMISS, in the civil war-torn African country.
In 1992, a landmark law enabling Japan to join UN-led peacekeeping operations abroad was enacted. Since then, the SDF's participation in such operations has continued without breaks other than an interval of about a year, between January 1995, when its mission in Mozambique ended, and February 1996, when troop dispatches to the Golan Heights began.
Following the withdrawal from South Sudan, no SDF troops are abroad on peacekeeping missions currently.
At a press conference on Friday, Defense Minister Tomomi Inada expressed her eagerness to send the SDF to other peacekeeping missions. "We will dispatch SDF troops if there is a place for them."
At present, 16 UN peacekeeping mission are under way. The Japanese government is considering the possibility of sending SDF troops to the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, or UNFICYP, in which troops mainly from European countries are working to prevent clashes between Greeks and Turks. (Jiji Press)
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