Djibouti may be used as hub for peacekeeping operations
The base set up by the Self-Defense Forces in Djibouti to conduct antipiracy activities in waters off Somalia can be used as a transfer point for SDF peacekeeping operations in the future, including the rescue of Japanese nationals overseas, SDF officials said.
Though the Middle East and Africa are regions where terrorism is rampant and political situations are unstable, countries in these regions are important partners for Japan.
Located in a strategic spot on the Red Sea, the SDF hub in Djibouti was designated as a key base in the National Defense Program Guidelines, which was approved by the Cabinet late last year.
In the new guidelines, the Djibouti hub is considered a base for Japan’s future international peacekeeping activities in the Middle East and Africa.
To prepare for the prolonging of Japan’s antipiracy activities, the 12-hectare Djibouti hub was opened in July 2011. The hub, which cost ¥4.7 billion to build, is the SDF’s first overseas hub with a hangar capable of carrying out maintenance work on P-3C surveillance aircraft.
With a capacity of about 190 SDF members, including personnel responsible for air transport and other aerial activities, the facility also has a large emergency electric power generator, a clinic staffed with medical officers and a gym.
The Djibouti hub is located close to South Sudan, where the SDF participates in a U.N. peacekeeping operation, and is on the same continent as Algeria where about 40 people, including 10 Japanese, were taken hostage in January last year. Most of the hostages were killed in a gun battle between the terrorists and Algerian forces.
A senior Defense Ministry official said, “We expect it will be utilized as a relay base for rescues of Japanese nationals in the future and for peacekeeping activities.”
However under the current situation, Japan’s presence in the Middle East and Africa is inadequate.
In January 2013, the SDF’s peacekeeping operations team withdrew from the Golan Heights in the Middle East as security conditions there worsened. The SDF had participated in U.N. peacekeeping missions for 17 years.
Currently, the SDF participates in only one peacekeeping mission in South Sudan. The government plans to use the SDF’s Djibouti hub as a base for accumulating supplies and treatment of injured personnel.
Source: Japan News