Abe meets with Djibouti president, visits MSDF antipiracy base

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday met with Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh to discuss maritime security, marking the first visit by a Japanese prime minister to the African country that is hosting Maritime Self-Defense Force personnel on an antipiracy mission off Somalia.

Before holding talks with Guelleh, Abe visited the operating base of the MSDF personnel who have been dispatched to fight piracy, built on the northern side of Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport in 2011.

Japan has two escort vessels and two P-3C patrol aircraft in the region, which since their deployment in 2009 have escorted over 3,000 commercial ships, and conducted warning and surveillance flights over 1,000 times in the Gulf of Aden.

On his six-day trip through Thursday to oil-producing countries in the Middle East and Djibouti, Abe is aiming to ensure the security of sea lanes that are vital to transporting crude oil.

Japan has decided to allow one of the destroyers to be used in a joint operation with multinational forces from December as piracy attacks have shifted from waters off Somalia to a broader area.