Japan is looking to expand its military base in Djibouti in order to impede on the growing Chinese influence in the region.
Africans are well aware of the increasing influence of China in the continent. Last year, the Asian country promised to support Africa with $60 billion, realised through development projects, cancelling of some debts as well as boosting the agricultural sector.
However, China is not the only Asian country looking to be influential in Africa. Japan has shown interest as well. Earlier this year, Tokyo pledged to support African countries with $30 billion in both the public and private spheres as well as increase its support in infrastructure, education and healthcare projects in Africa.
According to Reuters, one of the sources said:
“China is putting money into new infrastructure and raising its presence in Djibouti, and it is necessary for Japan to gain more influence.”
In February, the Chinese government began building a military facility in Djibouti. The facility is meant to act as a logistics base for peacekeeping and humanitarian missions.
Djibouti is located in north-eastern Africa, close to Eritrea, Somalia and Ethiopia. The US and French bases are also located in Djibouti.
Japan has had its own military base in Djibouti since 2011 at a 12-hectare site near Camp Lemonier, the U.S. base in Djibouti. Now the Japanese Self Defense Force is planning to expand its base.
“In addition to the land Japan has borrowed, it is considering leasing the neighbouring land to its east,” the spokesman said to Reuters . “Japan is now in negotiations with Djibouti government.”
The extra land is said to cost about $1 million a year and will be smaller than the original base. Japan is also looking to deploying C-130 transport aircraft, Bushmaster armoured vehicles and extra personnel to the base.
The reason for this expansion according to a Japanese source is to have aircraft there to evacuate Japanese citizens from nearby trouble spots or areas hit by natural disasters.