Japan opposition won’t back US Afghan mission

Japan opposition won’t back US Afghan mission

The Associated Press
Wednesday, August 8, 2007

TOKYO: The head of Japan’s main opposition party told the U.S. ambassador Wednesday he will not back extending a Japanese mission to provide logistical support to coalition forces in Afghanistan, saying the U.S.-led invasion in 2001 wasn’t sanctioned by the United Nations.

Fresh off a landslide victory in elections last month, Ichiro Ozawa of the Democratic Party of Japan also told the ambassador that Tokyo should end its mission in Afghanistan because it violates the nation’s pacifist Constitution, according to the party’s Web site.

“The United States started its war in Afghanistan without waiting for an international sanction,” Ozawa was quoted as saying at the 40-minute meeting with U.S. Ambassador Thomas Schieffer in Tokyo.

Ozawa noted Japan’s Constitution prohibits the use of force to solve international disputes, and said Tokyo should only participate in U.N.-led missions.

Schieffer countered by saying Japan’s mission was important in the global war on terrorism and that Tokyo, which is highly dependent on Middle Eastern oil, had a stake in bringing stability to that region, according to the Web site.

Japan’s navy has provided fuel and other logistical support for coalition warships in the Indian Ocean since November 2001 under a special anti-terrorism law, which has been extended three times and is set to expire in November.

The Democrats, who took control of parliament’s upper chamber after July 29 elections, have repeatedly opposed an extension.

It is widely expected that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pro-U.S. ruling coalition, which dominates parliament’s lower house, will be forced to make concessions to the Democrats over extending the mission.

Abe urged the Democrats to reconsider.

“Japan’s activities under the anti-terrorism law are truly appreciated by the international society,” Abe told reporters later Wednesday. “I hope to hold discussions with the DPJ over these international expectations and responsibilities.”

Meanwhile, U.S. State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said in Washington it is up to the Japanese government to make any decisions regarding its mission. But he added, “Certainly we would encourage Japan, as well as others, to continue with the contributions that they have made.”

Good.  It’s always nice to know the newly elected party will actually work around their Constitutional and international obligations instead of at the request of the Bush administration.  Let’s all hope the DPJ actually have a chance a becoming a viable party and this will not be a minor repeat of the coalition government led by the Japanese Socialist Party in 1994-1996


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