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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 June 14 - 20  > 25 years of SDF dispatch on UN PKOs deepens conflict with Article 9
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2017 June 14 - 20 [SDF]

25 years of SDF dispatch on UN PKOs deepens conflict with Article 9

June 15, 2017
This year marks 25 years since the enactment of the PKO Cooperation Law which opened the path for overseas dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces. In the meantime, UN PKOs incorporated missions involving the use of arms.

In September 1992, the Japanese government sent SDF troops to peacekeeping missions that the UN conducted in Cambodia. Since then, a total of 12,000 SDF personnel took part in nine UN PKO programs, including the latest one in South Sudan.

With the aim of justifying the SDF dispatch as an act of international peace cooperation, the government established five principles to allow SDF participation in PKOs which include the existence of a ceasefire agreement between parties concerned.

However, the 1994 Rwandan Genocide brought about a drastic change in the role of peacekeeping operations. In August 1999, UN Secretary General Cofi Annan issued a bulletin which allows for an active engagement of UN PKO troops in military conflicts. As a result, the main part of PKO activities changed from ceasefire observation to the protection of civilians with the use of force.

The South Sudan PKO also incorporates the change of PKO duties to the protection of civilians with the possible use of force. In the nation where conflicts between government and rebel forces continue, UN PKO troops are authorized to fight with South Sudanese government soldiers in order to protect over 220,000 refugees.

In July 2016 when violence occurred in the South Sudanese capital of Juba, the SDF camp came under attack. Following the incident, pushed by public opinion casting a grave doubt on the validity of the five PKO principles in the South Sudan’s situation, the Abe government withdrew all SDF units by the end of May. At present, no SDF personnel are deployed in any country for peacekeeping operations.

The Abe administration is reportedly looking for a chance to dispatch the SDF to one of 16 PKOs which are mainly being carried out in Africa. However, many of the 16 PKOs are tasked to protect civilians. As a nation having the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution, the need now for Japan is to make an international contribution through a drastic increase in its efforts for non-military assistance such as humanitarian aid.

Past related articles:
> Withdrawal of all GSDF personnel from South Sudan completed [ May 28, 2017]
> Condition no longer met for SDF to take part in PKOs in South Sudan due to collapse of ceasefire deal: JCP Inoue [September 10, 2015]
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