Friend of JSW, @JS_Susumu passed along a Yomiuri article discussing the SDF’s newest holiday spot: Djibouti.

SDF to Open First Overseas Base for Counter-Piracy Operations

MSDF celebrate their 300th P-3C from Djibouti in 2009

MSDF celebrate their 300th P-3C from Djibouti in 2009 (Source: MoD)

The government announced that the SDF will open its first forward-deployment base for its counter-piracy mission in Djibouti, East Africa, on June 1st.

Aimed at strengthening the ongoing counter-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia, the base will also allow the SDF to contribute to future operations in the Middle East and Africa. With aircraft, hangars and an apron, the largely permanent base is the SDF’s first overseas permanent base. With the importance of the region to US counter-terrorism activities, the base will also help strengthen ties in the US-Japan alliance.

Djibouti, neighboring Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, is located between the Arab and African states. The base will be the home of SDF reconnaissance and surveillance operations conducted as part of its current counter-piracy role.

Up to this point, the SDF has been renting space at a US military base in Djibouti’s capital for 2 years. With the SDF’s operations expected to be lengthened, the government concluded that it was necessary to have a base of its own.

Yomiuri’s stance is that the base is mostly permanent, but up until this point, the MoD refused to call it a permanent base, “only a hub to stage anti-pirate missions,” according to the Asahi late last year. In the same article, it seemed the President of Djibouti had other ideas:

The Djibouti president said the problem will not be resolved until Somalia is made governable again.

He said Japan’s anti-piracy mission will continue until “the Somali country first of all becomes able to function as a government.”

Whatever the case, it demonstrates the growingly cemented international role of the SDF, particularly by its most outward-looking branch: the Maritime Self-Defense Forces. The question remains, however, what Japan’s neighbors will think of this development.

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A former contributor to World Intelligence (Japan Military Review), James Simpson joined Japan Security Watch in 2011, migrating with his blog Defending Japan. He has a Masters in Security Studies from Aberystwyth University and is currently living in Kawasaki, Japan. His primary interests include the so-called 'normalization' of Japanese security (i.e. militarization), and the political impact of the abduction issue with North Korea.
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