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Abe hints he is ready to resign if SDF members killed, injured in S. Sudan

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks in the Diet on Feb. 1, 2017. (Mainichi)

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe suggested he is prepared to resign in the event that a member of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) participating in U.N. peacekeeping operations in South Sudan is injured or killed.

    "As the supreme commander of the SDF, I must have such preparedness," the prime minister told a House of Representatives Budget Committee session on Feb. 1.

    He was responding to questions by Kenji Eda, a member of the largest opposition Democratic Party (DP).

    Eda mentioned a hostage crisis at the Japanese ambassador's residence in Peru from 1996 to 1997 when he was serving as secretary to then Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto.

    Eda pointed out that either Hashimoto or the chief Cabinet secretary in the Hashimoto Cabinet would have stepped down if Japanese hostages had been killed during the crisis. He then asked Abe if he was ready to resign if any SDF members participating in the mission in South Sudan were killed.

    SDF troops in South Sudan are authorized to perform various missions including "rush-and-rescue" missions to save U.N., NGO and foreign military personnel should they come under attack.

    In the session, Prime Minister Abe said the security situation in South Sudan is "extremely severe."

    The prime minister also expressed strong enthusiasm about signing a peace treaty with Russia while he is in office. "I'm not thinking about handing the baton (to my successor). I'd like to conclude the pact on my own," he told Eda.

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