Japanese peacekeepers arrive in war torn country with mandate to use force

Japan’s troops would be allowed to fire warning shots and return fire if they are attacked.

South Sudan, the world's youngest nation, descended into war in December 2013, leaving tens of thousands dead and more than 2.5 million people displaced as fighting rages between President Salva Kiir's government forces (pictured) and rebel forces

The peacekeepers are part of Japan’s 350-strong contingent, while the rest would arrive in December to the UN force of 12,000 troops in the war-torn country.

Recently, Japan’s government gave the military its first mission since controversial security laws went into effect in March in spite of strong domestic public opposition.

The laws, a flagship policy of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, enabled the military to fight wars abroad for the first time in nearly seven decades, countering Japan’s pacifist constitution.

Japan’s troops would be allowed to fire warning shots and return fire if they are attacked or if they feel they are in life-threatening danger.

They would be assigned the task of rescuing UN staff and other allied forces that come under attack during peacekeeping operations in South Sudan.

While Japanese troops have formed part of the UN mission since 2012, they were previously not allowed to use force.

“The new batch of 130 Japanese troops is vital for the UN peacekeeping mission and the people of South Sudan, since it will help in maintaining the security,’’ Shantal Persaud, a spokeswoman for the UN mission, said.

South Sudan has been in turmoil since December 2013, when a split between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar escalated into a military conflict.

Tens of thousands have been killed and over 2 million displaced.

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