Ruling parties agree to extend deployment of SDF in the Indian Ocean for U.S. war

The three ruling parties on November 13 approved a government proposal to extend for six months the Japanese Self-Defense Forces' activities in the Indian Ocean in support of the ongoing so-called anti-terrorism war waged by the United States on Afghanistan.

Criticizing the decision, Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo on the same day warned that the extension will involve the danger of putting the SDF into operations to assist in a possible U.S. war against Iraq. "We demand that the SDF be swiftly withdrawn from the Indian Ocean," he said.

The governing parties want to obtain Cabinet approval of the extension, bypassing Diet discussions.

The duration of the deployment of SDF units in the Indian Ocean expires on November 19 but the governing parties want it extended until May 19, 2003.

The government also wants to deploy a transport ship and an escort ship, in addition to the refueling and escort vessels already under operation in the region.

Although Japan's Constitution renounces war as a means of solving international disputes, Japan is assisting in the U.S. retaliatory attack against Afghanistan by refueling U.S. and British warships.

Shii said that the JCP has been opposed to such steps from the outset, and criticized that a dispatch of the Aegis destroyer, which is now under consideration, will pave the way for Japan's direct participation in U.S. combat operations. (end)