(Tokyo Shimbun: January 13, 2016 – p. 2)
The Budget Committee of the House of Representatives completed on Jan. 12 a two-day basic question-and-answer session in connection with a supplementary budget for fiscal 2015 with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and all cabinet ministers in attendance. When asked about a Self-Defense Forces (SDF) anti-piracy base to be established in Djibouti, East Africa, Abe said, “Since we plan to implement international peace cooperation activities from now on as well, we are considering measures to make the best use of the SDF anti-piracy base in Djibouti from the perspective of carrying out operations in regions which are far away from Japan.” He indicated that Japan will actively use the SDF base in Djibouti as a base for United Nations peacekeeping operations (PKO).
The government formulated a policy of looking into the use of the SDF anti-piracy base for the PKO in the National Defense Program Guidelines updated at the end of 2013. During the Budget Committee session yesterday, Defense Minister Gen Nakatani disclosed that the SDF has transported goods from its base in Djibouti to the PKO unit in South Sudan. Abe apparently is considering expanding similar activities.
When SDF personnel were first dispatched in 2009, the number of incidents of piracy was in the range of 200, but no incidents of piracy were reported in 2015. Abe indicated that Japan will continue anti-piracy measures, saying, “It is very conceivable that a piracy incident will occur” if the SDF anti-piracy activities are suspended. Abe made this comment in response to a question from Ryo Kasai, a member of the Japanese Communist Party.
In connection with the fact that the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station will likely become a campaign issue for the Ginowan mayoral election. Abe said: “Since decisions on issues related to national security should be made by the entire nation, this should not be decided on by a certain region.” The official campaign for the Jan. 24 election will begin on Jan. 17. (Slightly abridged)