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Japan to deploy SDF members to Egypt under disputed new security law
BY 2019-03-20 07:41:30

TOKYO, March 19 (Xinhua) -- Japan will send Self-Defense Force (SDF) members to Egypt in mid-April, the government said here Tuesday, with the controversial move marking the first non-United Nations-backed deployment of Japanese troops.

It's accelerating the cabinet approval in late March for the dispatch.

The government said two SDF members will be deployed to join the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), a multinational peacekeeping force in Egypt, which is not under the command of the UN.

The pair will be sent to the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, in the first such deployment since the controversial security legislation came into effect in 2016, amid a staunch political, public and international backlash.

By way of forcing the required legislation through both chambers of Japan's bicameral parliament, the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, while ignoring calls from opposition parties for more debate on the disputed issue and against the will of the public, effectively bulldozed the legislation into law.

Legal experts and constitutional scholars have maintained the law, which has loosened the restrictions on Japan's SDF and allows for Japan to send troops overseas on peacekeeping missions if requested by international organizations, thwarts Japan's pacifist charter.

Earlier in March, the Japanese government sent members of the Defense Ministry to the Sinai Peninsula to gauge the situation.

The government judged that the current situation there dose not breach the five legal requirements necessary for participating in UN peacekeeping missions, one of which includes the existence of a ceasefire agreement among warring parties.

Japan has decided to adopt the UN's five legal requirements as a barometer to determine whether or not to send SDF members overseas for peacekeeping missions, regardless of the UN's actual involvement.

Defense Ministry officials briefed ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers on Tuesday about the situation on the Sinai Peninsula, and the deployment of the SDF members was approved.

Japan's prime minister is a staunch proponent of amending Japan's pacifist Constitution to further loosen the constrains on Japan's forces and allow them to increase their footprint in overseas theaters.

To achieve his goal, Abe will need to secure a two-thirds majority in a vote in both houses of parliament and a majority in a public referendum.

The LDP's coalition ally Komeito, however, is wary of amending the Constitution, Article 9 of which forever renounces war and prohibits Japan from maintaining armed forces with war potential.

The majority of the public are also against the contentious move, with nationwide rallies and protests held before, during and after the forced ratification of Japan's security shift.

(Editor:Li Zhaoqi) (From:xinhua)
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