pajon japan security policy africa 2017.pdf

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In recent years, Japan’s security contribution in Africa rose with the
unprecedented participation of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) in an
international counter-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden, the subsequent
build-up of its first overseas military base in Djibouti, and the SDF’s
longest participation in United Nations Peace-Keeping Operations
(UNPKO), in South Sudan (2012-May 2017). This increased security
contribution has been driven by a need to react to various events, such as
the rising Chinese presence in Africa and the increase in terrorist attacks
and piracy. It is also, however, a means of reassuring a risk-averse business
sector and encouraging it to step up its investment in Africa. Finally, it is
also about demonstrating Japan’s identity as a “proactive contributor to
peace”, and responsible shareholder in international security.
While media attention is drawn to the Japanese SDF presence on the
ground and at sea, the bulk of Japan’s security contribution to Africa
remains low-key, mostly in the form of financial contributions and
capacity-building assistance, and is very often channeled through or in
partnership with multilateral institutions or a third country, such as
This paper documents new features of Japan’s diplomacy that tend to
gradually integrate Africa into Japan’s strategic interests. First, despite
limitations in terms of mandates, SDF deployments to Africa are now being
facilitated, and the peacebuilding approach is providing opportunities to
the SDF to act in synergy with development activities. Secondly, Africa is
now being associated more tightly with Japan’s strategic core interests.
Terrorist attacks on the continent are posing a direct risk to Japanese
nationals. Threats to the security of vital maritime shipping routes
transiting from the Middle East to the Indian Ocean are also directly
undermining Tokyo’s interests. The inclusion of Africa in the “Free and
Open Indo-Pacific Strategy” demonstrates Japan’s willingness to adopt a
more strategic approach to Africa.