The current Japanese military contingent in Sudan consists of only two men

The current Japanese military contingent in Sudan consists of only two men (Source: Asagumo)

The United Nations is asking for Japan to send Ground Self-Defense Force members to Southern Sudan to take part in peacekeeping operations (PKO) there, Japanese news reports.

This comes ahead of the region’s separation and independence from Sudan on July 9th, at which point UN PKO in effect there will be reorganized.  The UN has probed the possibility that the Japanese government might send GSDF engineers to the region. However, with their hands tied with restoration efforts following the recent earthquake, the request is unlikely to be fulfilled. Tokyo Shimbun quoted an anonymous government official as calling the request “quite difficult”.

The SDF has already participated in the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) with two officers managing the security of the databases at UNMIS headquarters in Khartoum. This small commitment has continued with the Ministry of Defense’s reluctance to follow the Ministry of Foreign Affair’s push to increase the SDF’s involvement in the mission. The third deployment of this two-man contingent is set to end this month (June 2011). In 2008, the government seriously considered sending a GSDF contingent to aid infrastructure-building in the country, but the poor security in the country and lack of secure supply lines forced the MoD to nix the dispatch.

The proposal from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon for the reorganisation of UNMIS into the UN Mission to Southern Sudan (UNMISS) would see armed peacekeepers for the protection of the local population, and engineers to help build local infrastructure – a force of around 7,000 military personnel, plus a further 900 police personnel.

A referendum set the partition of Sudan into motion in January, and since that time, the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations has been asking Japan to become a major signatory to the new UNMISS mission.

[Adapted from Tokyo Shimbun article]

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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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