The Self-Defense Forces will begin training for new missions abroad under the revised security laws that took effect this spring, a government source said Friday.
Training will begin as soon as Thursday. It will focus on preparing troops for two new missions: rescuing U.N. staffers and other people under attack and defending facilities where U.N. peacekeepers are stationed.
Defense Minister Tomomi Inada will make a formal announcement Wednesday, according to the source.
The criteria for the use of arms by SDF members were eased under the new laws.
The legislation marks a major shift by explicitly enabling Japan to engage in collective self-defense and by expanding the sorts of missions the SDF can engage in abroad.
Concern persists that the changes could erode Japan’s postwar pacifism.
The laws became effective in March, but no new training has yet been conducted, as the government apparently was concerned about a potential negative impact on public opinion ahead of last month’s House of Councilors elections.
The sorts of new missions envisioned by the legal revisions could be carried out by an SDF unit set to join a U.N. peacekeeping operation in South Sudan in November, the source said. Japan has participated in the U.N. operation in that African country since 2012.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government is likely to make a final decision on whether to assign the new duties to the troops after assessing the situation in South Sudan, and whether the SDF unit is suitably prepared, the source said.
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