Japan to open first foreign military base


Senior Member
Oct 5, 2009
Japan to open first foreign mly base

DJIBOUTI: Japan is opening its first overseas army base in Djibouti, a small African state strategically located at the southern end of the Red Sea on the Gulf of Aden, to counter rising piracy in the region.

The 40-million-dollar base expected to be completed by early next year will strengthen international efforts to curb hijackings and vessel attacks by hordes of gunmen from the lawless Somalia.

The Djibouti base breaks new ground for Japan, which has had no standing army since World War II and cannot wage war. It however has armed forces — the Japan Self-Defence Forces — which were formed at the end of US occupation in 1952.

"This will be the only Japanese base outside our country and the first in Africa," Keizo Kitagawa, Japan's navy force captain and coordinator of the deployment, told AFP recently.

"We are deploying here to fight piracy and for our self-defence. Japan is a maritime nation and the increase in piracy in the Gulf of Aden through which 20,000 vessels sail every year is worrying," Kitagawa said.

He explained that 10 per cent of the Gulf of Aden's traffic comes from Japan and 90 per cent of Japanese exports depend on the crucial sea lane that was almost overrun by the marauding pirates two years ago.

"A camp will be built to house our personnel and material. Currently we are stationed at the American base," Kitagawa said. Since 2008, an international flotilla of warships has been patrolling the Gulf of Aden in a bid to stop the hijackings.

"The safety of the seas is therefore essential for Japan... the stability of this region will benefit Japan," Kitagawa added. In recent years Somali pirates have attacked or hijacked Japanese vessels traversing the key route.

In 2008, pirates armed with rocket-propelled grenades attacked the Takayama, a 150,000-tonne oil tanker, but it was rescued by the German navy. The previous year, chemical tanker Golden Nori was captured by the ransom-hunting pirates who freed it six weeks later. In February, the MV Apl Finland was saved by the Turkish navy from pirates who tried to clamber aboard.

Japan's decision was prompted by pressure from the country's maritime industry. "We sent military teams to Yemen, Oman, Kenya and Djibouti. In April 2009, we chose Djibouti," Kitagawa said.

The Red Sea state, which is home to the largest overseas French military base and the only US army base in Africa, was picked for its suitable air and sea ports as well as political stability, the official said.

Last April, Japan's defence ministry announced it was sending two destroyers and surveillance planes to boost the anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden.

The presence of the international navies has forced the Somali pirates to venture southwards in the less-patrolled Indian Ocean. Last weekend they seized three Thai fishing boasts with 77 crew some 1,200 miles from the coast of Somalia, the first time the pirates have struck so far east into the Indian Ocean.



DFI Technocrat
Oct 10, 2009
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You know japan should just rebuild one of the Yamato's and station it off the cost of Somalia, that beast would scare the shit out of any pirate that even just laid eyes on it from a distance.


Senior Member
Oct 5, 2009
Japan to build navy base in Gulf of Aden

DJIBOUTI, May 11 -- Japan plans to establish a $40 million strategic naval base in the Horn of Africa state of Djibouti, where U.S. and French forces are deployed to combat al-Qaida jihadists.

The facility, intended to boost the fight against Somali pirates preying on vital shipping lanes, will be Japan's first foreign military base since World War II.

"This will be the only Japanese base outside our country and the first in Africa," said Japanese navy Capt. Keizo Kitagawa, commander of the Japanese flotilla deployed with the international anti-piracy task force in the Gulf of Aden. He will oversee establishment of the base.

"We're deploying here to fight piracy and for our self-defense. Japan is a maritime nation and the increase in piracy in the Gulf of Aden is worrying," Kitagawa said.

Setting up a Japanese base in Africa would have been unthinkable a few years ago under Japan's 1947 Peace Constitution, which forbade military deployments abroad. So the emphasis of the new venture is fighting crime -- the pirates -- rather than on military operations, even though Japanese troops have been deployed overseas since the early 1990s on U.N. peacekeeping missions.

Several Japanese vessels have been attacked by the Somalia pirates over the last couple of years and pressure from the country's shipping industry was apparently put on the government to step up anti-piracy operations.

The 150,000-ton oil tanker Takayama was hit by rocket-propelled grenades in a 2008 assault but was rescued by a German warship. In 2007, the chemical tanker Golden Mori was hijacked and released after six weeks, apparently after ransom was paid to the sea bandits.

Japanese officials say 90 percent of Japan's exports are shipped through the Gulf of Aden north into the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.

The new base is expected to be completed in 2011 and will include an airfield for Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft of Japan's military and a permanent port facility.

Japanese personnel are currently housed in accommodations rented from the U.S. base at Camp Lemmonier, a former French Foreign Legion installation near Djibouti's airport.

The camp, the only U.S. military base in Africa, is occupied by the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, a counter-terrorism force deployed there after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

China, which also has several warships attached to the international fleet, has also expressed interest in establish a naval base in the Gulf of Aden.

As with the Japanese, resupply and maintenance is difficult because of the vast distances between the region and their ships' home ports.

Japanese naval units, including missile destroyers and maritime patrol planes have been operating in the Gulf of Aden since 2009.

The Japanese contingent includes teams from the Special Boarding Unit, modeled on Britain's Special Boat Service.


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