Due to the House of Councillors election, the government has withheld discussions on new missions arising from the security laws enacted at the end of March. Now that the election is over, the administration intends to restart the Self-Defense Forces’s (SDF) training for new missions in full scale. The government will specifically deliberate on whether or not the administration will assign the SDF unit to be deployed in South Sudan beginning in November to provide “emergency assistance for foreign troops” participating in UN peacekeeping operations (PKO) in the country.
The security laws allow the SDF to use minimum force in exercising the right of collective self-defense in the event of “situations that may threaten Japan’s existence,” including attacks against other countries closely associated with Japan. In this way, the laws remove geographical constraints on the SDF to provide rear area support to foreign militaries.
Two new missions have been added to the SDF’s existing missions: 1) The SDF will respond to need in distant areas to rescue personnel of nongovernmental organizations (NGO) or other countries’ PKO workers (“emergency assistance for foreign troops”); and 2) The SDF will defend on-site camps together with foreign militaries (“Joint defense of on-site camps”). The SDF is expected to perform these two missions in the PKO in South Sudan.
Currently, in order to perform the new missions, the SDF is devising operational plans, criteria for commanders, and rules on the use of firearms. Once these preparations are completed, the SDF will begin training for their emergency assistance efforts and other missions. The Defense Ministry estimates that two to three months will be necessary for the SDF to familiarize itself with the new missions. A government official said, “The SDF will be ready in time for November’s deployment.”(Abridged)