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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 September 12 - 18  > Ruling parties to submit new bill to continue Japan’s refueling of U.S. warships in Indian Ocean
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2007 September 12 - 18 [POLITICS]

Ruling parties to submit new bill to continue Japan’s refueling of U.S. warships in Indian Ocean

September 12, 2007
The government and the ruling parties have decided to submit to the extraordinary Diet session in late September a bill to allow the Maritime Self Defense Force to continue its refueling of U.S. warships in the Indian Ocean instead of seeking extension of the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yosano Kaoru announced this scheme at a press conference on September 11.

The new bill will limit the MSDF operations in the Indian Ocean to refueling and supplying water to coalition forces. The government also plans to remove the current special measures law’s provision that dispatches of SDF units to the area require the Diet’s ex post facto approval within 20 days.

The special measures law that authorizes the MSDF operations was enacted in 2001 and extended three times. The government and ruling coalition sought the fourth extension of the law that will expire on November 1.

However, in the July House of Councilors election, the ruling parties suffered a crushing defeat and the opposition parties that are opposed to the extension of the law achieved the majority in the Upper House, creating enormous difficulties for the ruling parties to get the law extended. If the law expires, the government can no longer extend the law and must withdraw the MSDF from the Indian Ocean.

The government and the ruling parties, therefore, have come up with the scheme of submitting a new bill. If the House of Councilors votes down the bill, the ruling parties can still enact it by passing it in the House of Representatives by a two-third majority vote.

Japanese Communist Party representative Koike Akira on the same day criticized the ruling parties for planning to use their two-third majority to pass the bill in the House of Representatives, saying, “This amounts to refuting the Upper House election results.”

Pointing out that the Liberal Democratic Party “stole” its seats in the 2005 House of Representatives election by focusing on the single issue of privatizing the postal services, Koike said, “I believe the current Upper House composition reflects the popular will. Therefore, trying to get the new bill enacted only in the Lower House is an act of denying parliamentary democracy.”
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