Japan decided Friday to extend by another year, through May 31, 2020, the dispatch of Self-Defense Forces personnel to the headquarters of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan.
The move came after the U.N. Security Council extended in March the mandate of the mission in the country, called UNMISS, by one year. Japan has four members stationed at the headquarters.
In May 2017, Japan ended its five-year deployment of Ground Self-Defense Force civil engineering units to UNMISS but has continued the dispatch of SDF members to the headquarters. The first members were sent in 2011.
“It is important for Japan to continue coordinating with other nations in assisting South Sudan because ensuring peace and stability there is a critical challenge for the international community,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference.
SDF activities overseas have been restricted under the war-renouncing Constitution.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has expanded the role of the SDF abroad through security legislation that took effect in 2016, but sending troops to areas where they could get drawn into fighting remains controversial.
No SDF unit is currently serving in an active U.N. mission following the withdrawal of GSDF troops from South Sudan.