Japan Constructs Large Military Base in Djibouti: Japanese Media

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Democratic Party of Japan-led government is constructing a large military facility in Djibouti, the first Self-Defense Forces’ base abroad "to counter piracy in the waters off Somalia in East Africa", Akahata reporterd.

The newspaper of the Japanese Communist Party said that this information was revealed by a government response in writing to a written inquiry submitted by Japanese Communist Party member of the House of Councilors Akamine Seiken on November 2.

In June 2009, the government dispatched a Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) unit, including two P3C patrol aircraft and 150 MSDF servicemen, to Djibouti. Along with two destroyers which were sent in 2008, the unit is taking part in anti-piracy missions in the Gulf of Aden. At present, the MSDF unit uses the U.S. base next to the Djibouti International Airport as a foothold for its activities, according to the paper.

Akahata added that "after signing a lease on the land with the Djibouti government, the Japanese government in July began building a MSDF facility in the north-west zone of the airport as its new base of operations."

The government’s response states that "by using 4.7 billion yen in tax money, the government plans to construct a 12 hectare facility which includes housing units, hangers, and an office building. The facility will also have an aircraft apron which can hold three aircraft and will be completed in March 2011."

Akamine criticized the MSDF’s new facility currently under construction in Djibouti as being a “genuine military base” and said, “Constructing such a facility enables the Self-Defense Forces to possess a permanent base abroad for the first time since the war’s end. It is a matter of extreme importance concerning abiding by the Japanese Constitution.”

He also urged the government to withdraw the SDF units from Djibouti, pointing out that even though many countries have sent their military forces to Somalia, acts of piracy are increasing and that “sending military forces offers no solution to the occurrence of piracy.”

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