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Last Japanese peacekeepers pull out of South Sudan

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Japan’s Ambassador to South Sudan, Masahiko Kiya, center, thanks a member of the final group of Japan’s Ground Self-Defence Force troops as they prepare to board a plane and leave from Juba, South Sudan.

JUBA, South Sudan >> The last Japanese peacekeepers with a United Nations mission have left South Sudan. The team was Japan’s first with an expanded mandate to use force if necessary to protect civilians and U.N. staff.

Japan decided in March to end its peacekeeping mission in the East African nation where civil war is well into its fourth year.

The 350-member Japanese team had arrived in November and focused on road construction.

Japanese military involvement overseas is a sensitive issue at home. The military’s use of force is limited by the post-World War II constitution.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had said he would resign if any member of the team in South Sudan were killed.

The departure of the Japanese peacekeepers is also a setback for international support of South Sudan’s government.

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