Defense Ministry to expand military attaches in Africa to nine


Japan plans to more than quadruple its defense attaches in Africa to nine from two in fiscal 2014 to expand its coverage to nine countries on the continent.

The Defense Ministry wants to strengthen its military intelligence on Africa after a hostage crisis at a gas facility in Algeria last January killed 10 Japanese.

The attaches, who are Self-Defense Forces officers, collect information from other foreign military attaches. Japan has one in Egypt and another in Sudan.

During the crisis in Algeria, Japan had to rely on Britain and other nations for data on what was happening. It now plans to dispatch attaches to Morocco, Algeria, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

The extra costs for the attache expansion are earmarked in its budget request for fiscal 2014.

The countries were selected based on influence, number of Japanese firms present and pull with the African Union, sources said Saturday.

Japan intends to enhance training for attache candidates and update a database on terrorism information in Africa.

The countries have groups of military attaches that cannot be joined by civilian diplomats. They exchange confidential data on military, security and terrorism matters. Building relationships of trust with the attaches requires excellent linguistic skills and wide knowledge of military affairs.