Bill to extend Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law railroaded through Lower House

The ruling Liberal Democratic, Komei, and New Conservative parties on October 4 used their majority to get a law to send Self-Defense Forces vessels to the Indian Ocean for two more years passed through the House of Representatives plenary session on the grounds that Japan's support for the U.S. retaliatory war against terrorism must continue.

The opposition Japanese Communist, Democratic, and Social Democratic parties voted against.

In the discussion preceding the vote, Akamine Seiken of the JCP spoke out in opposition to the law's extension, saying that the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law is clearly unconstitutional.

He said that during the last two years SDF warships in the Indian Ocean have refueled U.S. warships that were taking part in the war on Iraq in clear violation of the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law which was enacted for assisting U.S. forces in anti-terrorism operations against Afghanistan.

Pointing out that the government completely ignores criticism of such an illegal operation, Akamine demanded that the 2001 Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law and the 2003 special measures law to send the SDF to Iraq be abolished.

Akamine concluded his speech by expressing his strong determination to change Japan's foreign policy to one based on Article 9 of the Constitution.

In the House special committee on the same day, the Democratic Party proposed an amendment to the bill to require Diet approval for SDF dispatch, which was rejected.

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An Akahata article on October 4 pointed out that the number of U.S. Naval vessels in the Indian Ocean or nearby sea has been reduced from 40 in May 2002 to only 2 in September 2003, and that the Japanese government was unable to explain why the refueling must continue.

The article also quoted a Maritime SDF officer briefing a suprapartisan parliamentarian group visiting Iraq last August as stating that on-sea refueling will last for ten more years. Coupled with the Defense Agency's next budget request for introducing a helicopter-carrier, this indicates that the government is going to enhance the SDF role in support of all U.S. wars, the paper said. (end)

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