Japan is to begin constructing its first overseas naval base in Djibouti at the southern end of the Red Sea on the Gulf of Aden in an effort to fight increasing pirate attacks in the region.

The Djibouti naval base, worth $40m, is expected to be complete by early 2011, according to defenceweb.co.za.

Japanese Navy force captain Keizo Kitagawa said that Japan had sent military teams to Yemen, Oman, Kenya and Djibouti before finally choosing Djibouti in April 2009.

“The Djibouti base will be the only Japanese base outside our country, and the first in Africa,” he said.

An international fleet of warships has been operating in the Gulf of Aden since 2008 to stop hijackings and vessel attacks by Somali pirates.