People protest at MSDF Aegis destroyer leaving for Indian Ocean

The first Aegis missile-equipped destroyer of Japan's Self-Defense Forces to possibly assist in a U.S. war outside Japan left Yokosuka on December 16 as peace groups chanted "No violation of the Constitution," and "No war cooperation with the United States against Iraq."

The 7,250-ton Kirishima is to take part in operations in the Indian Ocean in support of the U.S. forces' so-called "anti-terrorism efforts."

About 50 people from the Kanagawa Prefectural Council against A and H Bombs and other peace organizations, trade unions, and the Japanese Communist Party staged a protest near Yokosuka port.

JCP Dietmembers Omori Takeshi and Hatano Kimie stated that the government's move to cooperate with the United States in attacks on Iraq is against international calls for a peaceful solution.

They called for a movement to be developed in order to prevent Japan from being used as a foothold of a U.S. war on Iraq.

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations on the same day issued a statement in protest against the dispatch of the MSDF Aegis ship, warning that the Anti-terrorism Special Measures Law does not apply to the dispatch of Aegis ships.

Pointing out that there has been no explanation to the people whether present SDF activities in the Indian Ocean are truly necessary under the Special Measures Law, the statement insisted that the people's sovereignty has been threatened because the dispatch was decided by the government without parliamentary approval. (end)