Japan OKs additional role for its troops in South Sudan

Japan’s cabinet on Tuesday gave its approval for an additional mission for Japanese troops in South Sudan to assist the UN peacekeepers with rescue operations, a task opponents say would risk embroiling the troops in international fighting in violation of the country’s pacifist constitution.
The mission, which comes under a security law enacted last year, begins with the deployment of 350 troops to be dispatched in three waves beginning Sunday. They will replace troops who are returning to Japan.
Japan has dispatched troops to war-torn South Sudan since 2011, but their operation has been limited to construction projects in noncombat areas.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has been expanding the military’s international role, but opponents say this not only puts Japanese soldiers at greater risk, but also violates the country’s post-World War II pacifist constitution.
Part of the troops’ new assignment is for them to help rescue the UN staff or nongovernment organisation personnel under attack. Tuesday’s approval would also allow Japanese soldiers to join their foreign counterparts to defend a shared the UN peacekeeping camp.

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