• Kyodo

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Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera on Thursday ordered Self-Defense Forces personnel engaged in U.N. peacekeeping operations in South Sudan to take all possible steps to ensure security in the new, conflict-torn nation.

“I want you to perform your duties with a sense of tension,” Onodera told the Ground Self-Defense Force soldiers operating with the U.N. in Juba, the capital. According to the Defense Ministry, about 400 SDF personnel are in the country.

Onodera is the first Cabinet minister to visit South Sudan, which gained independence in 2011. The fighting between government troops and forces loyal to the former vice president has been continuing since December, effectively embroiling the country in a civil war.

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