Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said he will dispatch two Ground Self-Defense Force members to U.N. peacekeeping operations in South Sudan as well as a survey team to the newly independent African state.
Noda told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York on Sept. 21 that he wants Japan to make new contributions to the world in its strong fields.
The survey team will check the security situation in South Sudan to determine if it is possible for Japan to send a GSDF engineering unit to the country for road construction and other tasks.
Noda said he plans to make a decision on when to dispatch the GSDF engineers after the on-site survey that will hopefully be carried out with the cooperation of the United Nations.
Defense Minister Yasuo Ichikawa on Sept. 22 held a Defense Council meeting and issued instructions to prepare to dispatch the two GDSF headquarters personnel and the on-site survey team.
Although the Foreign Ministry is positive about sending an engineering corps to South Sudan, the Defense Ministry, which is in charge of the actual dispatch, takes a more prudent stance.
"In view of the nation-building in South Sudan and the regional stability, it is essential to select fields where Japan can more than fully exploit its own capabilities and can contribute to the nation-building," Ichikawa told reporters. "Following a reconnaissance survey, we will make a final decision on whether to dispatch an engineering unit there."
In early August, Ban visited Japan and asked then Prime Minister Naoto Kan to send a 300-strong engineer unit to South Sudan. After Noda succeeded Kan as prime minister, his administration sent a survey team Sept. 3 to South Sudan to prepare for the dispatch of the GSDF headquarters personnel.
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