Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The government’s decision to pull out its peacekeeping troops from South Sudan is “not due to security reasons,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday.
He announced a decision on Friday to end the deployment of Ground Self-Defense Force engineering troops on a U.N. peacekeeping mission in the African country around the end of May.
This is “a policy judgment that the deployment will be able to pass a certain milestone” by the time, Abe said at a House of Councillors Budget Committee meeting.
Abe also said the government started considering the possibility of the troop withdrawal from South Sudan in September.
It is not appropriate to pull the personnel out in the middle of the work, Abe said. The withdrawal will not go smoothly without the consent of the South Sudan government, he said.
Abe defended his government’s decision in November last year to add new duties to the GSDF troops in South Sudan, including rescues of U.N. and other workers under attack, under the new security laws that came into force in March that year.
“With the laws in place and the necessary training having being completed, it is natural for us to implement all possible measures for the protection of Japanese nationals,” Abe said.
In addition, Abe said the government will quickly finalize a plan to provide South Sudan with humanitarian aid worth $6 million.
On a planned visit to Japan by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson from Wednesday, Abe said he wants to discuss North Korean and other regional issues as well as ways to further strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance.