A new, expanded mandate for the Japanese military, known as the Self-Defense Forces (SDF), participating in the United Nations mission in South Sudan went into force Monday. Japanese soldiers are now allowed to rescue humanitarian workers under attack and play a larger role in protecting U.N. camps. In an email interview, Ippeita Nishida, a research fellow at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, discusses the Japanese military’s overseas activities.
WPR: What U.N. and multilateral security missions is Japan participating in, and what is public opinion toward participating in them?
Ippeita Nishida: Japan has a 350-strong SDF engineering unit and some staff officers participating in the U.N. mission in South Sudan. They are mandated to provide basic infrastructure-building support to the mission in Juba. But with the recent political turmoil in South Sudan, the SDF is also providing water, sanitation and medical services to support the mission’s current mandate to protect civilians.