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Japan's Sumidagawa shipyard launches 2nd patrol boat for Djibouti Coast Guard.

| Naval News Navy 2024

According to information published by the Japanese MFA on March 28, 2024, the second 35M patrol vessel, currently under construction with the assistance of Japan, was launched in Tokyo with the participation of Captain Weiss of the Djibouti Coast Guard.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 2nd patrol boat for Djibouti's Coast Guard. (Picture source: Japanese MFA)

Japan's strategy of donating patrol boats to countries around the world is part of its broader approach to enhance maritime security, strengthen bilateral relations, and counterbalance China's growing influence in strategic regions.

This initiative is underpinned by Japan's provision of naval defense equipment freely to "like-minded" nations through the Official Security Assistance (OSA) program. For the fiscal year 2024, countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Mongolia, and Djibouti have been earmarked for assistance.

In Djibouti, Japan's involvement is particularly noteworthy due to the country's strategic location along key maritime routes and its proximity to China. Japan has leased military bases in Djibouti since 2011, reflecting the critical importance of the Bab el-Mandeb strait for Japan's commercial and energy supply lines.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has been actively channeling aid to Djibouti, including a significant US$26 million grant under the Maritime Security Capacity Improvement Plan, which encompasses the building of patrol boats and infrastructure for the Djibouti Coast Guard.

This Japanese strategy of donating patrol boats and other maritime security equipment is not limited to Djibouti but extends to other nations, including Kenya and Vietnam, indicating a pattern of strategic engagement across different continents.

In Kenya, for instance, Japan donated 17 patrol boats to the Maritime Police Unit to enhance maritime security and combat terrorism, reinforcing the longstanding cordial relations between Japan and Kenya​​. Similarly, in Vietnam, Japan's donation of patrol boats is part of a broader engagement to support Vietnam's maritime law enforcement capabilities amidst tensions in the South China Sea​​.

In comparison, China has established its first overseas military base in Djibouti. This Chinese military base, operational since 2017, is part of China's broader "String of Pearls" strategy aimed at securing significant maritime footholds across the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea​. China's approach in Djibouti is multifaceted, combining military presence with substantial infrastructure investment.

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