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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 April 19 - 25  > 1st GSDF group returns to Japan from UN PKO in South Sudan
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2017 April 19 - 25 [POLITICS]

1st GSDF group returns to Japan from UN PKO in South Sudan

April 20, 2017
About 70 personnel in the first group of the Ground Self-Defense Force, who had been engaged in the UN PKO mission in South Sudan, returned to Japan on April 19.

Fighting still continues between the South Sudanese government forces and the rebel forces, increasing public demand at home for an immediate pullout of all Japanese troops.

The Abe government last month announced that it will withdraw all 350 dispatched personnel of the GSDF from South Sudan by the end of May. However, Prime Minister Abe said that “the deteriorating security situation in the country is not the reason” for the discontinuation of Japan’s participation in the PKO in South Sudan.

A wife in her 30s, meeting her husband who had taken part in the mission, said in an interview, “I was so worried about him. But I now feel relieved to see his safe return.” An 81-year-old former GSDF officer said to a reporter, “When the Cabinet decided to assign the duty ‘kaketsuke keigo’ which did not exist during my SDF days, I had quite mixed feelings. I hope all of them will get back safe anyway.”

* * *

Returned personnel may suffer from PTSD

Otake Susumu, a doctor working to offer health-related advice to SDF members having experienced overseas missions and their families, expressed concern about the risk of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among returned SDF personnel.

Otake said that those who had been under extreme tension for a long time are vulnerable to PTSD. Some of them may suffer from mental illnesses. The doctor added, “PTSD is an invisible disease. The treatment for this disorder is never easy. I suppose the SDF will provide some mental healthcare to its personnel, but I believe that therapy with specialists is not enough to treat PTSD symptoms and support PTSD patients. Psychiatric staff and doctors themselves are sometimes affected by patients’ traumas. So, support by local communities as a whole is necessary.”

Past related article:
> What lies behind Abe’s decision to withdraw SDF from South Sudan? [March 11&12, 2017]
> JCP Koike: PM Abe should admit his fault for sending SDF to South Sudan [March 11, 2017]
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