Japan has no plans to dispatch troops or other security personnel to East Timor amid the rising violence there, the government's top spokesman said Friday. "We must first get a clear grasp of the security situation, and then we will consider what measures are necessary," Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe told reporters.
"At this point, we are not considering dispatching any personnel," he added. Fighting has broken out this week in the tiny country, where dismissed soldiers have engaged in deadly clashes with the army. Australia has dispatched troops, and New Zealand has also pledged to send soldiers. Japan International Cooperation Agency, a government-affiliated development aid organization, said that it was planning to evacuate staff, contract workers and family members from East Timor.
About 30 people would be taken to Jakarta, Indonesia on a charted plane later Friday, according to JICA spokesman Yujiro Yabe. Japan has shown an increasing eagerness to get involved in international military operations, despite constitutional limits that prevent its troops from engaging in fighting overseas.
Tokyo offered logistical support for the U.S.-led attack on Afghanistan, and has based about 600 troops in southern Iraq for non-combat, humanitarian work. Japan has contributed US$120 million (euro94.08 million) for reconstruction and humanitarian assistance for East Timor and provided an additional US$60 million (euro47.04 million) in development aid since 1999, reports the AP.
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