• Kyodo

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The Defense Ministry is making final arrangements to allow Ground Self-Defense Force personnel to be sent to South Sudan, possibly in mid-November, to conduct a fresh mission in a limited area under new security laws, according to a government source.

The mission, focusing on rescuing U.N. staff and other civilians if they are attacked, would apply only in the relatively safe southern region of the African country, where the GSDF has set up its camp for U.N. peacekeeping operations, the source said Sunday.

The security legislation that came into force in March has no stipulation regarding geographical limitations. By specifying where the GSDF personnel can carry out the new mission, the ministry is apparently aiming to ensure the troops’ safety.

This type of mission is now possible because the new laws eased the criteria for weapons use by the Self-Defense Forces during U.N. peacekeeping operations.

With criticism lingering that the change erodes the pacifist Constitution and could draw Japanese forces into full-fledged combat, Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said last week that the SDF plans to begin training personnel for the fresh mission.

Government forces and rebels have been fighting in the northern area of South Sudan.

The southern region, including the capital Juba, had been considered relatively safe, but large-scale combat between followers of President Salva Kiir and anti-government forces took place in July, prompting the GSDF to suspend its operations there.

After both sides issued cease-fire orders, the GSDF resumed its activities earlier this month, the government said.

A GSDF unit is scheduled to be newly dispatched to the U.N. mission in South Sudan, as the current operation plan will expire at the end of October.

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