Japan's decision to send Aegis ship came as a result of U.S. pressure

The deployment of an Aegis-equipped destroyer to the Indian Ocean was decided in a Japanese restaurant as a step to increase the Japanese Self-Defense Forces' activities in support of possible U.S. military actions against Iraq.

Akahata of December 6 reported that Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro and Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Yamasaki Taku met in restaurant "Tsuyama" on the evening of November 26. The two leaders agreed that the government should announce the decision before U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage arrives in Tokyo on December 8. The government announced the decision on December 4.

The Akahata report, which was based on what was told by senior LDP officials, stated that Koizumi and Yamasaki discussed ways for Japan to assist in U.S. military actions against Iraq in response to the U.S. Bush administration's strong demand.

According to the sources, they agreed on the following points:

(1) An increase in Maritime Self-Defense Force ships in the Indian Ocean can be used in Japan's cooperation with the United States in military operations against Iraq, although the SDF ships' operations are supposedly within the framework of the Anti-terrorism Special Measures Law.

(2) U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith, who visited Japan in early November, requested that Japan cooperate with and assist in U.S. military actions against Iraq under the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law.

(3) In order to avoid the misunderstanding that Japan made the decision under U.S. pressure, the Japanese government should release its decision before U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Armitage's arrival in Tokyo on December 8.

* * *

In protest against the government decision, and calling for the withdrawal of JMSDF ships from the Indian Ocean, the following peace organizations and trade unions published statements of opposition: the Central Action Committee for Abrogation of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty; the Japan Peace Committee; the New Japan Women's Association; and the All Japan Teachers and Staff Union (Zenkyo). (end)