Are SDF preparing for combat in Iraq?

Japan's Air Self-Defense Force cadets are conducting exercises in camouflage fatigues for desert operations instead of jungle fatigue which are green and brown marks.

Yoshioka Yoshinori of the Japanese Communist Party questioned the government about this change at the House of Councilors Foreign Affairs and Defense meeting on November 19.

He displayed the Defense Agency's PR magazine "Securitarian" which reported that students of the Air SDF cadet school in Nara City are participating in exercises in desert-style camouflage gear.

He said, "There is no desert in Japan. Does the SDF use camouflage fatigues on the assumption that its personnel may be sent to Iraq?"

Yoshioka also said that the magazine article stated that the cadet school borrowed the fatigues in question from the U.S. forces. "Exercises are normally held for specific purposes; they do not take place out of context. That's why I suspect that the use of desert-style camouflage fatigues are for war in the desert," he said.

Ishiba Shigeru, Defense Agency chief, avoided giving a clear answer. Obviously, he was unable to comment on the change in the camouflage fatigues because of Japan's stated policy of using the SDF only for defending Japan proper. (end)