U.N. request for Japan to transport troops, arms in South Sudan nixed

Kyodo

Japan has turned down a U.N. request to transport military personnel and weapons as part of its peacekeeping operations in crisis-hit South Sudan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Tuesday.

The administration was worried it would go against Japan’s policy of not exercising the right of collective self-defense.

“We decided to take a cautious approach to the request after examining various factors, including the handling by other governments and legal aspects,” Suga said.

The pacifist Constitution is interpreted as banning the exercise of collective self-defense, given that Article 9 forbids the use of force to settle international disputes.

The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided not to meet the U.N. request as it would take time to prepare the legal basis at home for allowing the Self-Defense Forces to engage in the mission and because the mission could be conducted by other countries, Japanese officials said.

Under the peacekeeping law, the SDF is allowed to help transport non-Japanese personnel and goods, as long as they are not military in nature.

The U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution in late December to nearly double the force level of the U.N. Mission in South Sudan. Aside from Japan, the body also asked the United States and NATO to send additional personnel.

Saying he wants Japan to make greater international contributions, Abe is seeking to rework the national defense posture and lift the self-imposed ban on collective self-defense.