World Bulletin / News Desk
Japan’s pacifistic constitution had previously been interpreted as prohibiting “collective defense”, or coming to the aid of an ally or peacekeeping partner, until 2012 when it was re-interpreted to permit such measures.
The decision undertaken during a Cabinet meeting Tuesday marks the first time that troops have been assigned expanded roles under Japan's new security laws that came into effect in March.
After the meeting, Defense Minister Tomomi Inada expressed hope that troops “will work to contribute to the peace and stability of South Sudan, feeling pride that they have gone through rigorous training".
"The Defense Ministry will continue to pay close attention to the local situation," Kyodo News quoted her as saying.
The operational changes are due to be applied to a batch of troops scheduled to start leaving Japan starting Sunday.
Japan contributes some of its armed forces to specifically authorized United Nations peacekeeping and anti-piracy missions.
Japan has maintained a force of around 350 military engineers in the war-torn African country since 2012, but they were allowed only to protect themselves if they come under direct attack from one of the warring factions or terrorists.
They were not authorized to come to the aid of other military or civilian groups under attack.
The legislation enabling collective defense was widely opposed in Japan and brought out the largest demonstrations in years.
In August, Minister Inada announced that Japan would start specially training personnel to come to the aid of endangered allies.
South Sudan was born around five years ago, and it has experienced nothing but turmoil ever since. A power sharing agreement recently collapsed.