SDF units must be withdrawn immediately from Indian Ocean -- Akahata editorial, November 17

The three ruling parties agreed to extend the period of dispatch of Self-Defense Forces units to the Indian Ocean for six months in order to support the U.S. Forces in the retaliatory war. This agreement will soon be endorsed by the government in a cabinet meeting.

The Maritime Self-Defense Force operation is aimed at supplying fuel to U.S. and British warships attacking Afghanistan. The ruling parties now want to extend the operation for the second time.

In addition, they want to send one more transport ship and escort ship and allow fuel to be provided to warships other than U.S. and British ones.

SDF dispatch can't be justified anymore

The second extension of the SDF dispatch is what Foreign Minister Kawaguchi Yoriko promised to study whether it is possible when U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld requested this on the grounds that the war against terrorism will continue.

In Afghanistan, many people have been killed or injured by the U.S. Forces and yet the mastermind of the September 11 attacks on the U.S. has not been captured. It has become clearer that the war can't end terrorism.

In the November 12 Japan-U.S. Coordination Committee meeting, in which the United States asked Japan to continue the SDF operation in the Indian Ocean, U.S. officials had to explain about the necessity of continuing military action in Afghanistan by claiming that the U.S. forces have to check Al-Qaida and Iraq on the sea and deal with tribal and national questions taking place in Afghanistan.

The SDF units have been dispatched in order to "prevent and end terrorism" in the Indian Ocean, and are the first Japanese troops sent overseas under the Special Measures Law to Deal with Terrorism.

Now that the U.S. Forces themselves fail to call their military action in Afghanistan action to end terrorism, it is impossible for Japan to justify, even under the special measures law, its sending of the SDF units abroad to support U.S. Forces.

The United States argued that Japan should extend the SDF operation because the struggle against terrorism has just begun and unlikely to end soon. This means that the United States intends to include the SDF in the "struggle against terrorism" which will last indefinitely.

The stated reason for sending another transport vessel to the Indian Ocean is, on the surface, to facilitate the operation in Afghanistan. The real reason, however, is reportedly to transport heavy equipment from Thailand to Qatar on the Persian Gulf coast. The U.S. forces have already transferred their Central Command from Florida to Qatar, and are now constructing facilities such as a command and control center.

The U.S. wants Japan to even dispatch an Aegis destroyer to the region.

The state-of-the-art Aegis destroyers are equipped with powerful air defense systems and high-end detecting radars. To dispatch such a destroyer has nothing to do with the world's efforts to eradicate terrorism in Afghanistan. It cannot be allowed under any pretense.

The SDF has been supplying a large amount of fuel to U.S. warships operating in the northern Arabian Sea. If attacks against Iraq break out, these U.S. vessels may join in the attacks, and accordingly, Japan's SDF will participate in logistical support for such U.S. strikes against Iraq.

This is unjustifiable even under the framework of the special measures law on terrorism.

What is needed now is not to extend or expand SDF operations in the Indian Ocean, but to withdraw Japan's forces from the region.

War cooperation violates the Constitution

International law recognizes that supporting another country's troops in the event of war is tantamount to entering the war. In this context, dispatching the SDF clearly violates the Japanese war-renouncing Constitution.

All Japanese people and people throughout the world want Japan to keep its peace clause of the Constitution and not be involved in any wars.

The Koizumi Cabinet should cancel the plan to extend the dispatching period for SDF vessels, and instead withdraw these vessels from the Indian Ocean as well as other regions. (end)