TOKYO --- Japan will lease additional land next year to expand a military base in Djibouti, eastern Africa, as a counterweight to what it sees as growing Chinese influence in the region, three Japanese government sources said.
China is seeking closer ties with African nations that could help it gain access to natural resources and provide new markets. Beijing said late last year it would pump $60 billion into development projects on the continent, cancel some debt and help boost agriculture.
Earlier this year, Japan also pledged to increase its support to infrastructure, education and healthcare projects in Africa, committing an extra $30 billion in public and private support.
"China is putting money into new infrastructure and raising its presence in Djibouti, and it is necessary for Japan gain more influence," said one of the sources, with knowledge of the plan.
Since 2011, a Japanese Self Defence Force contingent of 180 troops has occupied a 12-hectare (30 acre) site in Djibouti, next to Camp Lemonnier, the U.S. base at the country's international airport. (end of excerpt)
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