Japan Press Weekly
[Advanced search]
Past issues
Special issues
Fact Box
Feature Articles
Mail to editor
Mail magazine
HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 September 8 - 14  > US retaliatory war and Japan
> List of Past issues
Bookmark and Share
2021 September 8 - 14 TOP3 [POLITICS]

US retaliatory war and Japan

September 12, 2021

Akahata editorial

It has been 20 years since the terrorist attacks occurred on September 11, 2001 in the United States, followed by a U.S. retaliatory war on Afghanistan. By completing the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan at the end of August of this year, the U.S. administration brought an end to the longest war in its history. On the other hand, the Taliban which had been ousted from power in the retaliatory war has now taken control of Afghanistan again. After these 20 years, it has become crystal-clear that a war of retaliation takes thousands of innocent lives and runs counter to global efforts to eradicate terrorism. In the U.S. retaliatory war, U.S. bases in Japan played a role as sortie and supply bases. Japan's Self-Defense Forces in this war engaged in a prolonged refueling mission in the Indian Ocean in support of the U.S war in Afghanistan. Now Japan should reflect on its support role in the war.

Bilateral alliance is moving toward a global-scale alliance

During the U.S. retaliatory war which was launched on October 7, 2001, the U.S. aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk homeported at the U.S. Yokosuka Naval Base in Kanagawa Prefecture carried out operations in the Arabian Sea and served as an offshore base for special operation units entering Afghanistan with the use of transport helicopters. FA-18 carrier-based fighter aircraft took part in airstrikes and reportedly dropped about 100 bombs.

The U.S. destroyer O'Brien whose homeport was also Yokosuka fired Tomahawk cruise missiles from the Arabian Sea on the very first day of the U.S. strikes. The FA-18 fighter unit assigned to the U.S. Marine Corps Iwakuni Air Station in Yamaguchi Prefecture participated in the airstrikes to support ground combat units in Afghanistan between March 2002 and June 2002.

From the U.S. Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture and the U.S. Yokota Air Base in Tokyo, air control and logistical support personnel were sent to the region.

The Liberal Democratic-Komei government led by Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro expressed full support for the U.S. war in Afghanistan. Japan accepted sorties originating from U.S. bases in Japan and circumvented the law in order to dispatch a Maritime SDF ship in the guise of "warning and surveillance" activity to convoy the U.S. aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk after it left the U.S. Yokosuka base. Facing the “show the flag” pressure from the U.S. Bush administration, the Koizumi government enacted legislation on anti-terrorism special measures under which logistics support for U.S. and other foreign warships would be allowed. In addition, the government dispatched Maritime SDF supply ships and escort ships to the Indian Ocean, the first wartime dispatch of the SDF since its establishment.

The SDF support mission lasted from November 2001 until January 2010. During this period of time, the number of MSDF vessels and personnel sent to the Indian Ocean totaled 73 and 13,300, respectively. They, for example, provided a total of 510,000 kiloliters of oil in 939 refueling operations to military vessels of 12 nations, chiefly U.S. military ships. Given that these ships conducted missile attacks and airstrikes in Afghanistan, the SDF participated in the war in a literal manner.

The Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law was enacted to make up for shortcomings in the Law on Situations in Areas Surrounding Japan, and was established with a virtual revision of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty to enable Japan to assist the U.S. forces in areas surrounding Japan, which paved the way for Japan-U.S. military cooperation on a global scale. After the Special Measures Law on Iraq was established to support the U.S.-led Iraq war which began in 2003, the national security-related legislation was forcibly enacted in 2015 as a permanent statute for bilateral military cooperation abroad.

Risk of SDF becoming involved in combat abroad increased

The national security-related legislation, in contrast to the above-mentioned two special measures laws, enables the SDF to provide rear-area logistics support to the U.S. and other foreign troops in “combat zones”. As the law allows the SDF to engage in security activities in areas where a military conflict is taking place, the SDF will be able to join in security missions with a multinational military like the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. The risk of SDF troops participating in lawless wars abroad led by the U.S. and using their armed force abroad has increased dramatically.

A retaliatory war increases threats of terrorism, bringing about a prolongation of the war. The urgent need for Japan is to keep this firmly in mind and establish a government that will disallow the current unconstitutional policy of sending the SDF abroad in subservience to the demands of the United States.
> List of Past issues
  Copyright (c) Japan Press Service Co., Ltd. All right reserved