Japan will train its soldiers to take part in overseas UN peacekeeping operations. The trained troops would form part of the Self Defence Force units due to be deployed in South Sudan in November, the government announced on Wednesday, 24 August.
This would be the first occasion for Japanese soldiers since World War II to participate in rescue and military escort missions outside the country. The training would begin this month, defence minister Tomomi Inada said.
"We want the Self Defence Force to contribute what it can within the constraints of the constitution so it is important that they train thoroughly," Inada was quoted as saying by Reuters outside Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's residence on Wednesday following a regular ministerial meeting.
Currently around 350 military engineers from Japan are in South Sudan's capital Juba as part of a UN mission. They are rebuilding roads and other infrastructure in the war-torn country.
Japan intends to widen its military role in the UN missions – a move made possible following constitutional changes implemented in March by Abe's government, Reuters reported. The new security legislation allows Japanese troops to go on rescue missions and play a more active part in those operations. However, the decision whether to send troops overseas for a UN mission can be taken only by the cabinet.
The formal training of troops for the upcoming South Sudan operation is said to be among the first substantive operational changes taking place following the implementation of the new laws.