(Akahata: March 6, 2016 – Top Play)
The Defense Ministry admitted to Akahata, the newspaper of the Japanese Communist Party, that Ground Self-Defense Forces chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) defense units are deploying to South Sudan as part of the UN peacekeeping operations (PKO). The CBRN units are specialized in responding to attacks by biological, chemical, radiological, and nuclear weapons.
If such new missions as “rush to the aid of foreign troops” and “mission to ensure security” are added by the war law (the security legislation) to the SDF’s PKO mission in South Sudan, it is possible that more specialized units with high combat capability will be deployed.
Akahata confirmed with the Defense Ministry that 3rd Nuclear Biological Chemical (NBC) Defense Unit (Camp Senzo, Itami City, Hyogo Prefecture) and 10th Division NBC Weapon Defense Unit (Camp Moriyama, Nagoya City) are deploying to South Sudan. The 3rd NBC Defense Unit is currently in South Sudan as the fifth deployment team (from November 2013 to date) and 10th Division NBC Weapons Defense Unit as the ninth deployment team (from November 2015 to date).
The GSDF “Engineer Unit” deploying to South Sudan is under the command of the Central Readiness Force (CRF) that has centralized control of the GSDF deployment missions overseas. While deploying overseas, CBRN defense units are also under the command of CRF. Each deployment seems to apparently include quite a few CBRN unit members.
CBRN defense units are comprised of groups specialized in reconnaissance and decontamination when chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) weapons are used. The Defense Ministry explained that members of those units are “engaged in welfare services such as cooking” and not assigned for the mission of responding to CBRNE attacks.
A former SDF official familiar with chemical-related services suggested the possibility that those CBRNE unit members are assigned the “task of preventing epidemics.” “The deployment is also for the purpose of giving members skills and knowledge during overseas deployment,” added the official.
The primary mission of the SDF’s PKO in South Sudan is infrastructure development such as road and site improvement. But besides regional army corps, highly specialized members are deploying from the CRF to prepare for various contingencies.
The Defense Ministry has not disclosed detailed information on the size or organization of the “Engineer Unit.”