Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera will fly to South Sudan next week to check on Japanese troops there, becoming the first Japanese minister to visit since the new nation since it won independence from Sudan in July 2011, the ministry said Friday.
On Thursday, Onodera will inspect Self-Defense Forces troops participating in U.N. peacekeeping operations in South Sudan and check out the security situation. He will also meet with South Sudanese Defense Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk.
South Sudan will be Onodera’s second destination in a three-nation tour. On the first leg, he will visit Italy and meet with Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti in Rome on Wednesday to discuss bilateral defense cooperation. Next Friday, Onodera will go to Djibouti, which is serving as the base for an international antipiracy team off Somalia in which the Maritime Self-Defense Force is participating.
He will also hold talks with Djibouti Defense Minister Hassan Darar Houffaneh.