Before completing the 4-nation tour in the Middle East, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a quick visit in Djibouti, a small African country by the Red Sea. Some may have considered it unusual until realized what the prime minister aimed for. The Republic of Djibouti has hosted Japanese troops deployed under the Maritime Self-Defense Forces, and is the only permanent base of the SDF outside Japan.
“In a harsh environment where dust clouds blow and the scorching tropical sun beats down, you maintain high morale and discipline to fulfill important duties,” the Japanese prime minister said on Tuesday. Besides inspecting the SDF patrol planes, Abe reminded the soldiers of Japan’s duty in the international community, referring in particular to the fight against sea piracy, which is common in the region. “Please know that the international community has high expectations of us.”
Abe also mentioned the possibility of using Japan’s patrol planes to bolster the SDF troops in Djibouti. With the current standing of the Constitution, Japan can only move within the provision and limits of self-defense. However, Abe and the ruling LDP are not unknown for making recommendations of amending the Constitution in order to allow the SDF to expand its responsibilities. One of which is the permission to carry out rescue missions involving allies under attack, as well as amphibious operations to recapture a territory. These reasons, however, are not received without cynicism.
With 130 sailors fervently listening while in a hangar, Abe described them as “very dependable,” to whom he is “truly proud of.” To show appreciation to the Japanese troops, who have been way from their families, the prime minister joined the boys as they ate lunch at the mess hall. Before leaving Djibouti, the prime minister said, “I want you to be determined and proud, and help our nation play an important role that we must play in the international community.”
[via Wall Street Journal]