Japan Press Weekly
[Advanced search]
Past issues
Special issues
Fact Box
Feature Articles
Mail to editor
Mail magazine
HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 April 16 - 22  > 76 civil engineers sent to assist in SDF operations in Afghanistan and Iraq
> List of Past issues
Bookmark and Share
2008 April 16 - 22 [SDF]

76 civil engineers sent to assist in SDF operations in Afghanistan and Iraq

April 17, 2008
A total of 76 Japanese civilian engineers have been sent to the Indian Ocean and Iraq on 17 occasions for repair and other missions for Self-Defense Force vessels and equipment used to assist the U.S.-led wars against Afghanistan and Iraq.

House of Councilors member Koike Akira of the Japanese Communist Party revealed this fact on April 16 from a document he obtained from the Ministry of Defense.

The details are documented in relation to three special measures laws: Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law (November 2001-November 2007); the present Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law (January 2008-); and the Special Measures Law on Humanitarian and Reconstruction Assistance in Iraq (July 2003-).

This is the first time that the ministry made available the details of the use of civilians in connection with Japan’s assistance in the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. They detail duration of stay, the number of engineers, the details of the repair work, and the names of SDF ships.

However, the Defense Ministry refused to mention any specific locations where they took part in the repair work and the names of the companies that dispatched them. Concerning the use of engineers under the special measures law on humanitarian and reconstruction in Iraq, for example, it just said that they visited Kuwait as part of the SDF’s Iraq mission.

The document says that repair work included “replacements of parts for MSDF vessel equipment and technical assistance”, “the relocation of communications equipment,” and “the replacement of parts of monitoring equipment”.

JCP representative Akamine Seiken once stated in the Diet, “Mobilizing civilians abroad on a mission of repairing SDF facilities and equipment violates even the SDF Law and their safety is not guaranteed. The ministry should no longer request companies to supply the SDF with engineers for overseas SDF missions” (at the House of Representatives National Security Committee meeting on November 8, 2002).

The government was irresponsible in responding to Akamine at the time, claiming that those private sector engineers were being sent abroad under the direction of their respective companies under contract with the ministry and that these companies will pay compensation for possible accidents.

Journalist Yoshida Toshihiro says, “I am afraid that private-sector companies will be further involved in assisting the SDF in carrying out missions overseas if the present time-limited Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law is made permanent. This is a very dangerous system in which private sector companies support SDF operations assisting in U.S. wars.”

The ministry must reveal every aspect of the SDF’s missions abroad that involves the private sector. The government should stop sending SDF personnel and civil engineers abroad.
- Akahata, April 17, 2008
> List of Past issues
  Copyright (c) Japan Press Service Co., Ltd. All right reserved