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2020 January 15 - 21 [POLITICS]

Opposition parties jointly grill gov't about SDF dispatch to Middle East

January 17, 2020
Dietmembers of the Japanese Communist Party and other opposition parties on January 16 summoned government officials for an inquiry about the planned dispatch of Self Defense Force units to the Middle East. The opposition lawmakers stressed that since regional tensions are growing between the U.S. and Iran, the SDF dispatch should be cancelled.

The Abe Cabinet last month decided to send SDF troops to the Middle East under the guise of engaging in information gathering activities. After the Abe government made this decision, the U.S. killed a top Iranian general and Iran carried out a retaliatory strike, increasing tensions in the region. Still, the Abe government is sticking to the initial dispatch plan.

At the hearing, the opposition party lawmakers noted that the government suggests that information gathered by the SDF can be shared with the U.S. and urged government officials to explain the legal basis for the sharing of collected information. Defense Ministry officials were unable to make a satisfactory response. The Dietmembers criticized the government for deciding on the SDF dispatch without determining its legality.

The parliamentarians also pointed to the possibility that the U.S. military may decide to use force based on information provided by the SDF and said that this is tantamount to Japan taking part in military actions together with the U.S. in violation of the Japanese Constitution.

Defense Ministry officials insisted that although tensions are high in the Middle East, there is no need to reconsider the SDF dispatch.

JCP member of the House of Representatives Akamine Seiken said that the government ignores the obvious risk to the safety of the dispatched SDF troops and the possibility that SDF activities may be unconstitutional.

Past related article:
> SDF dispatch will increase tensions in the Middle East and is unacceptable: Koike [December 28, 2019]
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