TOKYO – Japanese government is considering to extend the Djibouti base’s functions, making it the first semi-permanent and a multi-purpose base for the Self-Defense Force (SDF) to act in Africa and Middle East, local media reported Monday.
Japan opened the anti-piracy base in Djibouti, East Africa in June 2011 on a 12-hectare place adjoining Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport and has built a command headquarters, boarding facilities, parking apron there at a cost of 4.7 billion yen ($40.07 million).
About 180 Japan SDF personnel are stationed at the country’s first full-fledged and only overseas base on a four-month rotational basis to ensure the safe passage of passenger and commercial ships through the treacherous Gulf of Aden off Somalia.
According to Japan’s Asahi Shimbun, Defense Ministry and SDF officials are considering allowing SDF troops to use the base for disaster relief and UN peacekeeping activities, as well as accommodating SDF troops that are dispatched from Japan in the event of emergencies and terrorism activities. Thus, the base will become an operational center for SDF troops in the region on the assumption that Japan will continue utilizing it on a long-term basis.
In Japan, the government has to pass temporary legislation for each SDF mission sent abroad. If the task is ended, relevant base has to be removed accordingly.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe eyes increasing the capability of SDF under the banner of”Active Pacifism,”but observers here fear that constructing long-term overseas base may increase the danger of war involving Japan, violate the war- renouncing Article 9 and change the country’s defense-oriented posture.