Local papers criticize Koizumi's decision

Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro read part of the Constitution's preamble at a press conference to announce the cabinet approval of the "Basic Plan" for sending the Self-Defense Forces to Iraq. By stating, "We believe that no nation is responsible to itself alone", he apparently tried to justify the cabinet decision. But this performance came under criticism from many local newspapers on the next day.

The Okinawa Times editorially stated, "The prime minister deliberately neglected Article 9, the centerpiece of the Constitution declaring that Japan would "forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force and the right of belligerency."

It continued to state, "Since the deployment of the SDF to Iraq may involve the use of force that overrides the constitutional restrictions or the rules for Japan's participation in U.N. peace-keeping operations, we have to express our objection to the government decision."

The Hokkaido Shimbun stated, "The government under the Special Measures Law on Humanitarian and Reconstruction Assistance in Iraq restricted the area of SDF operations to non-combat zones. But the "Basic Plan" is illegal as long as it denies the core part of the special measures law. Counterattacks by SDF personnel in self-defense can lead to destroying the constitutional ideals for building a peaceful nation."

The Kobe Shimbun stressed, "Dispatching the SDF may please the U.S. Bush administration, but will lose Middle East countries' trust in Japan."

Referring to some countries which have changed their policy to get their personnel for reconstruction assistance withdrawn from Iraq, the Mutsu Shimpo said that sending the SDF will only help destabilize the regional security in southern Iraq where the Ground SDF units will be deployed. (end)

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