I knew it! I saw this coming when I previously blogged about the Chinese establishing a bigger foothold in various parts Africa. Here is a report via the AFP:

In an attempt to stop the on going problem of piracy in the Gulf of Aden, Japan will be opening its first overseas military base in Africa. Located in Djibouti, at a cost of about 40 million dollars the base will be strategically located at the southern end of the Red Sea on the Gulf of Aden.

The base is expected to be completed early next year and is expected to strengthen overall international efforts to fight pirates from Somalia. Currently operating from an American facility, the Japanese base will house personnel and materials.

Captain Keizo Kitagawa of Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Force (MSDF) is quoted by the AFP news agency as saying “This will be the only Japanese base outside our country and the first in Africa.” Kitagawa will oversee coordination and the deployment of personnel to the region.

Kitazawa also stated that “10 percent of the Gulf of Aden’s traffic comes from Japan and 90 percent of Japanese exports depend on the crucial sea lane that was almost overrun by the marauding pirates (click here for an interactive map of Somali piracy) two years ago.” Click here for more of the story (AFP).

My previous post on Japan’s renaissance and my comment that:

I believe that Japan has used Article 9 and the Yoshida Doctrine to slowly and efficiently build up its Self Defense Force while enjoying or tolerating the collective-protectionism of the United States. While some say that the US should leave Japan or get out of Asia entirely, many Asian nations do not want to see the return of “Imperial” Japanese Forces, especially forces that can go nuclear. Yes, there are current territorial disputes, false claims in textbooks, the comfort woman issue, and the huge task that Hello Kitty must take on to promote Japan, Inc. in a manner pleasing to those that fall sway to Japan’s soft power. I just wonder what Japan should do once India and China flex their power in regions strategic to the United States and Japan’s interests? Has anyone noticed the current scramble for better “relations” with Africa by the US, China, Japan, and India? What are the implications?

I guess the implication is that Japan continues to sharpen its teeth! Will this lead to further expansion in other parts of Africa?
In my Op Ed piece response to an article published by the Japan Times written by Mr. Craig Martin on Article 9 of Japan’s Constitution:

… the original language used (Japanese) in the document is purposely vague/zurui (cunning). My friend disagreed. I highly believe that the language used in Art. 9 is intentionally vague in order to give the Japanese room to “reinterpret” and maneuver.

It looks like the Japanese have reinterpreted and maneuvered very well. I wonder how China and India will respond?

By the way, I sort of feel vindicated since I was slammed after writing:

I say let Japan deploy their troops overseas. I expected this debate to rear its ugly little head again when the SDF went on their test run in Iraq. The first Gulf War was an exercise in checkbook diplomacy for Japan. This time around with the Global War on Terror, Japan got their fingernails dirty so the next logical move is lend a hand.

Bottom line for me is that the relevance of an undemocratic China’s rising power and expanding role and India’s “ambition” in the international system can be deemed “dangerous” to the global interests of the United States. China will continue to challenge US foreign policy decisions by using both economic and military power (although militarily they still have some work to do). But let’s face it, the rise of China and India is unavoidable. I feel that it is in the US and Japan’s interests to have Japan return to normal status and deploy its forces overseas.

What do you think? Here are the Measures against Piracy off the Coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden and detailed information on the Maritime JSDF. View the JMSDF homepage and check out the JMSDF Maritime Channel for additional information and videos..

Here is a map of the region.

Critical Sea Lanes of Communication are shown below: