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2008年11月 4日 (火)


The Yomiuri Shimbun(Nov. 4, 2008)

Japan should be more active in peacekeeping

スーダンPKO 積極派遣へ「待ち」を改めよ(114日付・読売社説)

The government must change its passive attitude toward the Self-Defense Forces' international peace cooperation activities from just waiting for a dispatch request from the United Nations or other countries to one of actively seeking to participate in peacekeeping operations.


The government has dispatched two members of the Ground Self-Defense Force to the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) headquarters in Khartoum. This is the first time Japan has participated in a peacekeeping operation in Africa since a 1993-1995 mission to Mozambique.


However, it took nine months from the time the government started studying the possibility of dispatching SDF members to their actual departure. Although this was the first mission in Africa in a long time, it seems like a lot of time to spend discussing the dispatch of only two people.


Since the description of the the SDF's duties was changed to include international peace cooperation activities as a primary duty in January last year, the government should decide on such missions and dispatch SDF personnel more quickly.


One of the main duties for the two GSDF members sent to UNMIS is administration of its data base, but they do not have to limit their work there to that.



Advance team

The two members should actively gather information on areas of operation and tasks that would be appropriate for the GSDF if the government decides to send troops to the UNMIS in southern Sudan or to peacekeeping missions in other parts of Africa in the future.


The government will post a GSDF attache at the Japanese embassy in Khartoum for the first time. The Defense Ministry also plans to add four more analysts specialized in Africa at its Defense Intelligence Headquarters next fiscal year.


The government must actively seek out areas where circumstances including security conditions and mission contents are suitable for the SDF, and secure a peacekeeping role there for Japan through diplomatic negotiations. Unless the government takes such a proactive approach, Japan will never be able to rise above the status of a developing country when it comes to peacekeeping.


As of Sept. 30, Japan ranked 82nd among nations in the number of participants in U.N. peacekeeping operations, with only 36 assigned to such duties. The number of Japanese participants must also be increased as soon as possible to enhance Japan's influence in the international community.



Focus on Africa

The United Nations is currently undertaking 16 peacekeeping operations and 12 political and peace building missions around the world, half of them in Africa. Though Japan tends to be hesitant about dispatching personnel all the way to Africa, such an attitude has to change immediately.


The government plans to revise the National Defense Program Outline next year, which defines the basic policy on national security. In the process, it is important to review the SDF's armament procurement programs and organization of units so that its international peace cooperation activities can be enhanced.


The GSDF Central Readiness Force includes the 700-member Central Readiness Regiment, which serves as an advance group in U.N. peacekeeping operations, and the International Peace Cooperation Activities Training Unit. Enhancement of their capabilities should be considered.


The government also should give priority to increasing the number of armored personnel carriers and heavy-lift helicopters, and to the early acquisition of next-generation transport planes with longer ranges, which are all suitable for international peace cooperation activities.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 4, 2008)

20081140154  読売新聞)


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