by Xinhua writer Yu Zhixiao
BEIJING, April 28 (Xinhua) -- Japan is building its first overseas military base in Africa's Djibouti on the Gulf of Aden in an attempt to probe what waters its military can legally reach farthest, analysts say.
In the name of better combating notorious Somali pirates, Japan is busy setting up a 40-million-U.S.-dollar military base, which is expected to be completed early next year.
Currently, some 150 Japanese soldiers battling piracy are stationed in a U.S. base in Djibouti, which is at the southern end of the Red Sea.
The Japanese authorities say some 2,000 Japanese vessels, accounting for 10 percent of the world total, sail through the Gulf of Aden each year. Some 90 percent of Japanese exports rely on the crucial sea lane, which has been overrun by rampant piracy.
On occasion, Japanese vessels have been hijacked by pirates.
The Japanese base, undeniably, would add momentum to the country's anti-piracy efforts in the region.
But observers say that by establishing the base, the Japanese government is also exploring how far it can go in increasing its military clout in the world.