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Politic-Economic-Society-Tech

Japan sending troops to Timor

THE Japanese government has announced it will send 680 troops to East Timor - Japan's largest military deployment for a UN peacekeeping operation. The contingent, including seven females, will be deployed in East Timor between March 2 and August 20, mainly to build roads, bridges and other infrastructure, the Cabinet Office said.
Separately, the Foreign Ministry said it will be Japan's first dispatch of female military personnel to join a UN peacekeeping operation.

Japan has stepped up its role in UN-led missions since Parliament approved a 1992 law expanding the duties of the Self Defense Forces to international peacekeeping.

The latest deployment will be Japan's biggest since sending about 600 troops to Cambodia in 1992.

Japan has also sent troops on peacekeeping missions to such locations as the Golan Heights, Cambodia and Mozambique.

Japan's pacifist constitution bans it from sending troops into combat overseas. The country can send troops on UN peacekeeping missions only if a cease-fire is in place and permission is given by local authorities. Japanese peacekeepers can use their small firearms only to protect themselves.

Under a UN-sponsored referendum, East Timor in 1999 voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia.

East Timor is currently administered by the United Nations, and the territory's first elected assembly has said it plans to declare independence on May 20.

About 200,000 East Timorese are estimated to have been killed - first in fighting between supporters of rival Timorese political parties in the mid-1970s and then as a result of Indonesia's 24-year military occupation.

East Timor was a Portuguese colony for almost 400 years.

source: Daily Telegraph, 15/02/
2002


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