The Maritime Self-Defense Force will hold an inauguration ceremony Tuesday in Djibouti for Japan's first overseas military base since World War II, a move that Ahmed Araita Ali, Djibouti's ambassador to Japan, describes as an opportunity for Tokyo to play a larger international role in peacekeeping and forge closer ties between the two nations.

Djibouti is located in the Horn of Africa, where the Red Sea meets the Gulf of Aden, and one of the world's busiest maritime routes lies off its coast, with roughly 20,000 vessels, many transporting shipments from Japan, passing by each year.

But in recent years pirates have targeted merchant ships in the area, prompting various nations to deploy military task forces to the region to escort vessels and combat piracy.