U.S. President John F. Kennedy famously told the American people in his inaugural address: "Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country."

More than 60 years later, and after Sudan descended into violence and chaos — forcing the evacuation of civilians of many nationalities recently — I was reminded that the Japanese still ask what Japan can do for them.

The Japanese government has responded swiftly to the current events. The editorial of the Mainichi Shimbun, which usually takes a critical stance on the government and its actions, commented, “We are relieved that they were able to evacuate safely. The rescue operation proceeded without major confusion.” It is quite remarkable that the Mainichi no longer criticizes the dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces units to a foreign country.