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  4. 2019.03.19

   Self Defense Forces Deployed Abroad


The Defense Ministry will send two officers of the Self Defense Forces (SDF) of Japan to the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, in the middle of April as commanders for missions of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO). This is the first round of the international cooperation activities for peace and safety, following the participation in the United Nations’ peace keeping operations (PKO). The new dispatch is a trial to endorse a series of laws called the war engagement legislation.

 

GOVERNMENT CONSOLIDATES LAWS TO JOIN WARS

 

MFO is not UN Mission

 

Minister of Defense Iwaya Takeshi told that the nation will actively contribute to peace and stability in the Middle East, referring to a new dispatch of officers for the MFO duty, a mission outside the UN mandate.

 

Israel occupied the Sinai Peninsula in 1967 when the Six-Day War was fought. Most of the occupied territory was restored to Egypt in 1979 through a bilateral peace treaty, and since 1982 the US-led military forces have been deployed in accordance with the treaty. They have supervised in implementation of the ceasefire provisions on the border areas.

 

Israel demanded to have multinational force and observers as it did not want the UN to take initiative in the observation missions. At the moment in total 1,200 troopers from 12 nations, including US, UK, France, Italy and Australia, are assigned to operate. The government of Japan has financially contributed to the mission since 1988.

 

Timely to Abe Government

 

The task is the first trial of international cooperation for peace and safety, a program designed in the revised PKO Act: the law was altered coarsely in the context of the war engagement legislation in 2015 (implemented in 2016) by the Abe government. Thus officers from the Ground Self Defense Forces (GSDF) will be sent for the new mission.

 

This will encourage future participation of Japan’s military in the US-led multinational forces to bolster its war policy, which will lead to unrestricted overseas deployment of the SDF.

 

The revised PKO Act authorizes Japanese officers to engage in combat actions and jointly defend their camps with foreign troops. The PKO mission in South Sudan was the first-round experience. The newly deployed officers will commit in more belligerent actions.

 

As for overseas operations, the government of Japan currently operates anti-pirate campaigns in the Aden Bay off the coast of Somalia and in the command duty in South Sudan, following the withdrawal of GSDF in May, 2017.

 

According to the international peace cooperation section of Cabinet Office, the MFO headquarters offered the Japanese government to dispatch officers to be in charge of communications among MFO, Egypt and Israel in the area of Sharm el-Sheikh, south of Peninsula. To the Abe government, which boasts of its pro-active peace initiative, the bid means a right chance to enhance its external military function.

 

Absence of Parliamentary Approval

 

At the moment five rules are applied in sending PKO troops abroad, relying on a peace agreement of the relevant parties. They are;

(1)        a ceasefire agreement of the conflicting parties

(2)        the parties’ agreement to request Japan’s commitment

(3)        strict neutrality of Japanese troops

(4)        withdrawal, unless any of the (1), (2) and (3) is met

(5)        authorization of use of weapons of the minimum and necessary level, and as a new condition,

(6)  proposal from an international organization or a nation

 

A prior approval is necessary from the Diet in dispatching troops. The government, however, explains it unnecessary to have one when sending commanding personnel.

 

The Abe government discussed joining the MFO duties late last year and sent Sonoura Kentaro, Adviser to Prime Minister (in charge of national security), and Suzuki Takako, a parliamentary undersecretary of Ministry of Defense, to the region to inquire local situations.

 

 

 

April 9, 2019

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