At U.N., Abe to vow more active role for Japan in Africa peacekeeping

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to vow in a speech at the United Nations on Friday that Japan will take a more active role in U.N.-led peacekeeping operations in Africa and support U.S. President Barack Obama’s initiative to quickly deploy peacekeepers in the region, a draft of the speech showed on Tuesday.

Abe will pledge aid in training personnel and providing the equipment necessary for such operations, and will unveil plans to deploy a Self-Defense Forces officer to an important position, possibly commander of the international peacekeeping troops, according to a draft copy of the speech obtained by Kyodo News.

Political analysts said the speech also likely reflects Abe’s desire to reform the U.N. Security Council, including a permanent seat for Japan.

During summit talks in Tokyo in April, the U.S. president asked Japan to play a larger role in African peacekeeping.

Abe will deliver his speech during a U.N. high-level meeting at the U.N. headquarters on peacekeeping operations. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will lead the discussions.

He will lay out an expanded role for the SDF in peacekeeping operations, in the area of infrastructure building, following his Cabinet’s contentious July 1 decision to reinterpret war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution, the draft showed.

Describing the urgency of swiftly deploying peacekeepers to Africa, which is home to many politically unstable countries, Abe will say that Japan, as part of capacity-building efforts, stands ready to help with infrastructure development and the construction of camps to house peacekeeping troops by providing equipment and by training personnel, according to the draft.

The speech will also underline the need to respond to the wide range of tasks required of peacekeepers, including maintaining security and monitoring elections, the draft indicated.

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