Source: Mainichi Daily News
An advance group of Ground Self-Defense Force personnel flew into the South Sudanese capital of Juba on Sunday to prepare for the arrival of more GSDF members for U.N. peacekeeping operations in the fledgling African nation.
By participating in the U.N. peacekeeping operation in the nation ravaged by 22 years of civil war, GSDF engineering members will contribute to the nation’s infrastructure construction.
South Sudan, the 54th country on the African continent, gained independence from Sudan in July 2011 following a January 2011 referendum in which an overwhelming majority of South Sudanese voted to secede.
The SDF operation in South Sudan is the SDF’s ninth participation in U.N. peacekeeping operations, with the first being Japan’s dispatch of engineering troops to Cambodia in 1992.
Thirty-four GSDF members departed from Narita airport on Saturday. Of the 34, 23 members, including a 13-member GSDF engineering unit, arrived at Juba, while the remaining 11 will fly into Uganda which shares its northern border with South Sudan.
The 34 GSDF members will take charge of receiving logistical materials to be delivered to sustain Japanese peacekeeping activities in South Sudan, while conducting necessary arrangements for setting up camps for Japanese personnel.
Japan plans to send a total of around 210 GSDF troops in stages to the country by the end of March for building roads and bridges in the fledgling nation. The actual engineering work will start around April.
The full-fledged work will start in June after the first 210-member unit is replaced by a second batch of around 330 GSDF personnel.
The dispatch period for the GSDF engineers is through the end of October, but the Japanese government envisions extending the period to five years given strong needs for infrastructure construction in the country.
The country faces a pressing need to develop social infrastructure as the civil war that claimed the lives of 2 million people between 1983 and 2005 has delayed its economic development.