Stop the SDF dispatch bill -- Akahata editorial, July 20 (Excerpts)

Why is the government and governing parties rushing to railroad the bill to send the Self-Defense Force to Iraq through the Diet knowing that it will put SDF personnel in harm's way for the first time since the end of WWII?

Everyone knows that there is no place in Iraq that SDF units can be deployed out of harm's way. The government and governing party officials were shocked by the news that Baghdad Airport had come under missile attack, the SDF are to be deployed near the airport.

The Defense Agency director general has not ruled out SDF units' activities to help U.S. forces in mop up operations, including capture, search, and assault operations to disarm remnants of Iraq's former government personnel.

In Iraq, not only U.S. forces but also those who assist them are being attacked. The government has admitted that SDF personnel may have to risk their lives, indicating that the SDF may be obliged to use force in response to such attacks.

According to a report, the government is considering delaying the departure of SDF units to be sent to Iraq for fear that the governing Liberal Democratic Party will be in a disadvantageous position in the next general election if SDF personnel are killed. If this is true, the government is playing with Japanese citizens' lives for the sake of party politics.

The government and governing parties are irresponsible in trying to have the SDF take part in counter-insurgency operations acceding to the U.S. demand that the SDF assist U.S. forces.

Japan, a country that constitutionally renounces war and the right to belligerency, must work for a speedy withdrawal of U.S. and British forces from Iraq instead of taking part in the occupation, and pave the way for U.N.-led efforts to help Iraq rebuild itself and extend humanitarian assistance. (end)

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