'No danger' calls are dangerous for SDF in Iraq -- Akahata editorial, December 7

Defense Agency Director General Ono Yoshinori stayed only five and half hours in Samawah before stating, "The security situation in the area is stable, although there's no knowing what will happen next." The Defense Agency's defense operation division director said, "We don't conclude that the situation is dangerous only because several mortars have been fired. Things would be different if dozens of mortar shells were fired at the SDF." These arguments are only designed to deliberately downplay the danger of keeping the SDF deployed in Iraq longer. This is how the Koizumi Cabinet is insisting on extending the term of the SDF deployment. This is extraordinary at a time when one multinational force member after another is pulling their troops out of Iraq.

It's dangerous

Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro has explained that wherever the SDF operates is a non-combat area. How illogical! He is only revealing his inability to view the situation objectively. The SDF official's remark quoted above is misleading because it amounts to denying any imminent danger to SDF member' lives.

It is difficult to dodge mortars that are as large as a beer bottle because they fall straight from above and can kill and injure SDF personnel without warning. Because of the danger, the Defense Agency is planning to set up several anti-mortar radar sites in Samawah.

The DA official's remark that several mortars fired at the SDF is not a reason for concluding that the situation is dangerous and the DA chief's statement that the security situation is "stable" after inspecting the SDF camp and a suburban garbage disposal site are in defense of the prime minister's sophistry that Samawah is not a combat area.

However, even one mortar fired at or near the SDF camp, which is heavily armed and on full alert, will be regarded as an attack to start combat with the SDF. Two rocket shells, twice as powerful as mortars, landed at the SDF camp though without exploding. Several more shells have reached near the base site. Now that fierce combat continues in Iraq, how can Samawah be regarded as an exception?

Article 2 of the "Law Concerning the Special Measures on Humanitarian and Reconstruction Assistance in Iraq" stipulates that the SDF can carry out activities only in areas where there is no combat taking place and where no combat is anticipated to take place throughout the whole period of SDF deployment to Iraq. The government has maintained that this provision is "essential" (Ishiba Shigeru, former Defense Agency director general, January 29).

If there is no knowing what will happen next as Ono says, no one can claim that "there will be no combat" in Samawah.

In the first place, dispatching the SDF to Iraq itself is in contravention of the Constitution. Even with the Iraq special measures law, the SDF must be withdrawn immediately.

Making Japan a U.S. accomplice

While waging fierce attacks throughout Iraq, the U.S. forces have killed many residents of Fallujah, reportedly over 6,000, by its indiscriminate attacks that violate international humanitarian law.

However, Prime Minister Koizumi says that the U.S. operation in Fallujah "must succeed," suggesting that he stands for the U.S. operation as its accomplice. Moreover, the Air SDF in Iraq has been transporting U.S. personnel and military supplies as part of the U.S.-led multinational force that continues its de facto occupation of Iraq.

Undoubtedly, by continuing to deploy the SDF in Iraq, Koizumi declares that his government will further support in the U.S. war/occupation in Iraq, though the U.S. has been isolated from the world. It is unacceptable that the government unilaterally decides to extend the term of the SDF deployment. (end)

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