Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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Japan Expanding Naval Base in Djibouti to Diminish Chinese Military Power in Africa

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(Photo : JMSDF) The Rising Sun Flag (Kyokujitsu-ki) on a warship of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.

Japan continues its global military challenge to China and plans to expand its military outpost in the small but strategically important Republic of Djibouti in the Horn of Africa as part of that effort.

Japanese media reported reliable sources as saying the Ministry of Defense (MOD) will lease more land in 2017 to expand a military base in Djibouti to counter growing Chinese military power in the region. Djibouti is the location of Japan's only foreign military base.

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An MOD spokesman confirmed discussions to expand the Japanese base at Ambouli were taking place.

"In addition to the land Japan has borrowed, it is considering leasing the neighboring land to its east," the spokesman said. "Japan is now in negotiations with Djibouti government."

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) has operated a military base in Djibouti since 2011. Japanese forces here escort ships and combat piracy on the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea.

JMSDF, however, has been operating in Djibouti since 2009 and shared facilities with United States military forces stationed in Djibouti until Japan established its own base in 2011.

A JSDF unit of 180 troops has occupied a 12 hectare site next to Camp Lemonnier, the U.S. military base at the Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport, a joint civilian-military airport situated in the town of Ambouli.

Occupying the southern part of this airport, Camp Lemonnier is the largest U.S. military base in Africa. It houses over 4,000 U.S. troops and is used for Special Forces and aerial drone operations against jihadist groups in the region.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seeking to give the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF), the Japanese unified armed forces, a greater global role as Japan ends seven decades of state pacifism.

On the economic warfare side of the equation, Japan will increase its support for infrastructure, education and health care projects in Africa by pumping in at least US$30 billion in public and private support. In 2015, China said it will invest US$60 billion into development projects in Africa; cancel some national debt and help improve agriculture.

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