Japanese defense minister in South Sudan over peacekeepers

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada has visited troubled South Sudan as her country considers whether to give its peacekeepers broader abilities to use force.

About 350 Japanese peacekeepers take part in the U.N. mission there. Almost all engage in engineering activities.

Japanese media reports say the defense ministry is considering sending peacekeepers who would be able to undertake risky rescue missions in South Sudan. After meeting with U.N. officials, Inada did not address that in her English-language remarks.

More than 12,000 U.N. peacekeepers are in South Sudan, and they have been criticized repeatedly for failing protect civilians, most recently when fighting erupted in the capital in July.

Tens of thousands have died since civil war began in December 2013, and fighting has continued despite a peace deal reached last year.

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