TOKYO (AP) - Japan will keep two military technicians in Sudan for another year to assist United Nations peacekeeping operations, the foreign ministry said Monday.
Japan’s mission to Sudan, its first deployment of troops to the country, will now last through June of next year, the ministry said in a news release.
The move coincides with the U.N. Security Council’s one-year extension of its peacekeeping mission in April. The mission includes about 10,000 military personnel and police.
Members of the Japanese defense forces work at the headquarters of the U.N. Mission in Sudan, located in Khartoum. Japan has kept two troops there since October of last year to help with logistics and database management, according to the defense ministry.
Japan’s armed forces are restricted to peaceful activities by its pacifist constitution, but it has a large and well-equipped military and is gradually becoming more assertive.
The country upgraded its defense agency to a full-fledged ministry two years ago, and it has provided troops for a noncombat mission in Iraq as well as ships to refuel anti-terrorism patrols in the Indian Ocean.
Rebel groups and government troops continue to clash in Sudan, where a war in the Darfur region began in 2003. Rapes and other war crimes have been widespread, and U.N. officials say up to 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million have fled their homes.