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Posted on on September 18th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

Noda to schmooze with world chiefs at N.Y. meet.


Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will make his diplomatic debut this week during a trip to New York City to attend U.N. meetings and hold bilateral talks with President Barack Obama and other world leaders.

The prime minister will deliver a speech Friday at the 66th session of the U.N. General Assembly.

During his four-day visit to the city starting Tuesday, Noda will at the United Nations outline the lessons Japan has learned about nuclear safety and disaster preparedness following the March disasters, government officials said.

Noda,  will deliver a keynote speech Thursday at a high-level U.N. meeting on nuclear safety and security, at which he will describe the ongoing efforts to bring the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant under control, the officials said.

Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba will also travel to New York City on Monday to attend a series of meetings and hold talks with his overseas counterparts.

China is sounding out Japan over a visit by Vice Premier Li Keqiang in late October, sources familiar with bilateral relations have said.

China hopes the visit would help improve ties ahead of the 40th anniversary next year of the normalization of bilateral relations, the sources said Friday.

{Is there going to develop an inroad by Japan direction Africa that China wants to avoid? – our comment}



SDF may aid South Sudan peacekeeping

Noda to unveil engineering role in U.N. speech

Sunday, Sep. 18, 2011


Japan is considering sending Ground Self-Defense Force engineers to South Sudan to take part in U.N. peacekeeping operations, government sources said Saturday.

The government plans to soon send a survey team to the recently created country, and a dispatch would likely take place early next year, the sources said.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is expected to unveil the plan to send a GSDF engineering unit to the African nation when he visits New York this week. Noda hopes the dispatch will demonstrate Japan’s commitment to tackling issues of international concern, the sources said.

The prime minister plans to include the plan in his speech at the U.N. General Assembly session on Friday, and to discuss it with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon during their meeting, they said.

South Sudan’s information minister, Benjamin Marial, said his country would welcome the dispatch of GSDF engineers.

Marial described Japan as a friend of South Sudan, and said he hopes the GSDF unit would help build infrastructure such as roads and train the country’s military in carrying out construction work.

The United Nations has sought Japan’s support in its nation-building efforts in South Sudan, which became an independent state in July.

The survey team will gather information on local needs, the security situation and supplies of food and fuel, according to the sources. Based on the team’s findings, the government will be able to decide on specific details such as the size of the unit and its mission.

When Ban visited Japan in August, he held meetings with then Prime Minister Naoto Kan and then Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa and requested that Japan send a GSDF engineering unit to the peacekeeping mission in the oil-rich African nation.

At the time, Kitazawa said it would be difficult to send Self-Defense Forces engineers because they were engaged in rebuilding operations following the March 11 quake and tsunami, and some were participating in a U.N. mission in Haiti.

Kitazawa said Japan would limit its involvement to dispatching two SDF officers in rotation to the U.N. mission headquarters. The government started sending GSDF engineers to the U.N. Mission in Sudan in 2008. The two officers have taken charge of managing logistics and a security information database at the mission’s headquarters.

Some in the Defense Ministry are cautious about sending GSDF engineers to South Sudan at the present time because of the unstable security situation and the difficulty in securing supplies, the sources said.

The Foreign Ministry, however, hopes the plan will be a highlight of Noda’s foreign affairs debut at the United Nations, and noted that the SDF’s full-fledged involvement in restoring Japan’s devastated northeast ended in August.

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