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FILE PHOTO: United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) peacekeepers from Japan assemble a drainage pipe at Tomping camp, where some 15,000 people who fled their homes following recent fighting are sheltered by the United Nations, in Juba January 7, 2014.
Oil-rich South Sudan has torn by civil war since 2013, when President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, fired his deputy Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer.
REUTERS/James Akena/File PhotoTOKYO Japan’s Self Defense Force will withdraw from the United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan when its troops return home around the end of May, closing a controversial episode in the prime minister’s push to expand the military’s overseas role.
Fighting since has increasingly fractured the world’s youngest country along ethnic lines, leading the U.N. to warn of the risk of genocide.
The end of the mission will also help Defense Minister Tomomi Inada, who rejected opposition calls to resign because she refused to describe the conflict as “fighting.”
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Japan to end SDF’s South Sudan mission in May
The South Sudan government now plans to launch “national dialogue” to facilitate talks among ethnic groups in the country later this March.
According to the government, Japan has dispatched a total of 4,000 SDF troops to Juba since January 2012.
Later Friday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga denied that Japan will withdraw the unit because of deteriorating security conditions.
“We understand the security situation (of South Sudan) is still very severe, but conditions in the capital city are relatively stable,” Suga told a news conference.
Many observers have argued this condition is no longer being met in South Sudan, but the government has maintained there are no security problems as far as Juba is concerned.