Japan to increase Djibouti military base in east Africa to counter growing Chinese influence

Japan to increase Djibouti military base in east Africa to counter growing Chinese influence

Oct 14, 2016: Japan will lease additional land next year to expand a military base in Djibouti, eastern Africa, as a counterweight to what it sees as growing Chinese influence in the region, according to media reports.

China is seeking closer ties with African nations that could help it gain access to natural resources and provide new markets. Beijing said late last year it would pump US$60 billion into development projects on the continent, cancel some debt and help boost agriculture. Earlier this year, Japan also pledged to increase its support to infrastructure, education and health care projects in Africa, committing an extra $30 billion in public and private support. China in February began construction in Djibouti of its first overseas military facility, a coastal logistics base that will resupply naval vessels taking part in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions. Djibouti, which is about the size of Wales, is strategically located at the southern entrance to the Red Sea on the route to the Suez Canal. The tiny, barren nation sandwiched between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia, also hosts US and French bases. Since 2011, a Japanese Self-Defence Force contingent of 180 troops has occupied a 12-hectare site in Djibouti, next to Camp Lemonnier, the US base at the country’s international airport. From there, the SDF have operated maritime patrol aircraft as part of an international force, including China, that hunts pirates in the seas of the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia. Image courtesy: By Skilla1st

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