The Self-Defense Forces will not withdraw from South Sudan, the government said Wednesday, as the United Nations continues operations to protect civilians from increasing violence in the country edging toward civil war.
“We will continue to contribute to the nation-building of South Sudan along with the international community,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference.
Ground Self-Defense Force elements have engaged in reconstruction and other work mainly in the capital, Juba. South Sudan became independent from Sudan in 2011 after decades of civil war.
Government officials said the area where the GSDF contingent is stationed is calm, but some experts said their safety may not be ensured in the event violence further intensifies in the country, prompting speculation that the government will withdraw the unit.
The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday unanimously adopted a resolution to increase the number of peacekeeping troops and police in South Sudan to better protect civilians from violence.
Suga welcomed the decision, saying Japan hopes the missions will help ease the situation. Asked about the possibility of dispatching more GSDF personnel to South Sudan, he said Tokyo is “not considering” the option.
Later Wednesday, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and his Ethiopian counterpart, Tedros Adhanom, whose country chairs the African Union, agreed to cooperate in helping stabilize the situation in South Sudan, according to Japanese officials.
In telephone talks, Kishida conveyed to Tedros Japan’s plans to continue SDF activities in the country in coordination with other countries, the United Nations and the African Union.
Also Wednesday, the government said three GSDF staff members will depart for South Sudan on Jan. 4 to replace their colleagues at the U.N. headquarters in Juba. They will be charged with procuring commodities and managing information for six months to a year, the government said.