DJIBOUTI – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh that Japan plans to provide patrol ships to the northeast African nation to help its coast guard improve maritime security.
The first Japanese prime minister to visit Djibouti, Abe on Tuesday toured the operating base built on the northern side of Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport in 2011, where Maritime Self-Defense Force personnel are stationed to fight piracy.
“It is vital for Japan to protect waters in the region. And it is essential for the international community to ensure peace, stability and prosperity,” Abe told MSDF personnel as he stressed the importance of Japan’s contribution to maritime security.
The provision of patrol ships to Djibouti would help tankers and other commercial vessels pass through the area safely, as Tokyo aims to ensure the security of sea lanes that are vital to transporting crude oil and natural resources.
Japan will be sending experts in September to assess the situation in Djibouti, Japanese government officials said.
Abe also said Japan will provide support to Djibouti to develop geothermal power generation and secure stable electricity supplies.
The prime minister is on a six-day trip through Thursday to oil-producing nations in the Middle East and Djibouti.
Since taking office last December, Abe has pledged to provide not only financial aid but other forms of assistance in the areas of human resources and security to Africa so that Japanese firms can further venture into the resource-rich continent.
“We need to promote international cooperation to strengthen measures to fight piracy,” Abe said after visiting the MSDF base.
The MSDF has two escort vessels and two P-3C patrol aircraft in the region, which since their deployment in 2009 have escorted over 3,000 commercial ships, and conducted warning and surveillance flights over 1,000 times in the Gulf of Aden.
Japan has decided to allow one of the destroyers to be used in a joint operation with multinational forces from December as piracy attacks have shifted from waters off Somalia to a broader area.
Abe has a strong interest in maritime security. In July, he unveiled a plan to provide 10 patrol ships to the Philippines, which is involved in a territorial row with China in the South China Sea.
Osprey ‘hard landing’
Japan has asked the United States for information on a noninjurious “hard landing” Monday by an MV-22 Osprey transport aircraft in Nevada, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday.
With safety concerns over the tilt-rotor aircraft running high in Okinawa, the government has asked the United States to quickly provide information, including the cause of the incident, Suga told a news conference.
Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera also asked for information on the incident from U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in Brunei during a meeting on the sidelines of ASEAN meetings.