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Saturday, Oct. 4, 2008
GSDF officers OK'd by Cabinet to join U.N. Sudan mission
By JUN HONGO
The Cabinet on Friday approved a mission to send two Ground Self-Defense Force officers to Sudan to take part in U.N. peacekeeping operations.
"The dispatch of the two officers will not only advance ties between Japan and Sudan, but will contribute to installing security and peace in the region," Foreign Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone told reporters.
The dispatch is based on a request by the United Nations. The two officers, who will be unarmed, will carry out nonmilitary tasks, including database management and transportation scheduling, at the U.N Mission in Sudan headquarters in Khartoum.
The mission is scheduled to end next June. While the Constitution bans the use of force as a means of settling international disputes, a 1992 peacekeeping operation law enables sending the Self Defense-Forces to participate in U.N. peacekeeping activities.
Japan is involved in a ceasefire mission at the Golan Heights and a peace monitoring mission in Nepal. Asked if the mission in Sudan will be enhanced in the future, Nakasone said it was a possibility, but only after the two officers complete their assignment.
The conflict between the Sudanese government and its non-Arab rebel forces ended with a ceasefire in 2005. About 10,000 personnel from approximately 70 countries are participating in UNMIS operations to monitor and support the implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement.
Nakasone gave assurances that the safety of the two GSDF officers will be given top priority.
Japan has provided about $270 million to Sudan since 2005, including bilateral assistance and aid through international organizations, according to the Foreign Ministry.
Aso keen on SDF law
A permanent law to authorize overseas dispatches of Self-Defense Forces personnel was referred to positively Friday by Prime Minister Taro Aso.
"Developing a so-called general law is desirable for Japan to engage in international peace-fostering activities swiftly and effectively," Aso said during a House of Councilors plenary session, adopting the position of his predecessor, Yasuo Fukuda, on the issue.
But Aso stopped short of providing a time frame for when his administration might try to enact such a law.