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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 October 31 - November 6  > Anti-terrorism law expires; MSDF ships will return to Japan
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2007 October 31 - November 6 [SDF]

Anti-terrorism law expires; MSDF ships will return to Japan

November 1, 2007
The Anti-terrorism Special Measures Law expired on November 1. Accordingly, the Maritime Self-Defense Force unit that has refueled U.S. warships in the Indian Ocean based on the law will withdraw from the area.

The government has dispatched the SDF abroad since 1992 in violation of the Constitution, but this is the first time, pressed by public opinion, SDF operations have come to halt.

The MSDF supply ship Tokiwa and the escort ship Kirisame now in the Indian Ocean will return in late November to Sasebo (Nagasaki Pref.) and Yokosuka (Kanagawa Pref.) respectively.

The Anti-terrorism Special Measures Law was enacted in 2001 with a two-year duration in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and has been extended three times. However, in the July House of Councilors election, the opposition parties that oppose an extension of the law achieved the majority.

The ruling Democratic and Komei parties gave up on a further extension of the law and submitted to the Diet a new bill to enable the MSDF to resume the refueling mission. Faced with strong opposition from the Japanese Communist Party and other opposition parties, the government and ruling parties do not yet have a prospect of enacting the bill.

The government first sent the SDF to Cambodia between 1992 and 1993 to take part in the U.N. peacekeeping operations. It has dispatched the SDF also to Mozambique, the Golan Heights, and East Timor.

Unlike peacekeeping activities, the MSDF in the Indian Ocean has refueled U.S. vessels that are conducting operations as part of the retaliatory war on Afghanistan. Furthermore, those U.S. warships are also taking part in the Iraq war at the same time.

The JCP demands that Japan stop supporting the U.S. retaliatory war against Afghanistan and instead make every possible diplomatic effort to promote a political settlement.

Prime Minister Fukuda Yasuo, while admitting the significance of the Afghanistan peace process, clings to the government policy of continuing the MSDF operation. Fukuda has also revealed his intention to attempt to enact a permanent law to enable the government to send the SDF at its will, saying, “This idea should be discussed in the Diet.”
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