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2019 December 25 - 2020 January 14 [SDF]

SDF dispatch will increase tensions in the Middle East and is unacceptable: Koike

December 28, 2019

The Abe Cabinet on December 27 decided to send Self-Defense Forces to the Middle East to conduct “research and survey” activities based on the Defense Ministry establishment law in response to the Trump administration’s call for the participation in their U.S.-led “coalition of the willing” against Iran.

Japanese Communist Party Secretariat Head Koike Akira on the same day at a press conference in the Diet building pointed out that the dispatch of the SDF abroad for a “research and survey” mission under the law requires no Diet discussions and thus the government can arbitrarily expand SDF’s activities without limit. “It is unforgivable for the government to use such an underhanded way to send the SDF to the Middle East,” Koike added.

Stating that when the U.S.-led coalition mission known as “Operation Sentinel” comes into full swing next month, it will increase military tensions in the region, Koike criticized the Abe government by saying, “Nevertheless, the government made a decision on the SDF dispatch during the Diet recess undoubtedly with the aim of getting in step with the U.S.-led coalition.”

Koike cited that Japan will not directly join in the U.S.-led coalition but will send SDF personnel as liaison officers to the U.S. military’s central command center in Bahrain. He said that this indicates a possible risk that dispatched SDF troops will, together with U.S. forces, engage in military operations.

Koike also pointed out that the Cabinet decision states that when the need of protecting Japanese vessels arises, the SDF will be ordered to conduct a maritime police action in which the use of weapons is allowed. He said, “The SDF dispatch, which carries a high risk of using arms, should be cancelled.”

Koike said that the number of countries participating in the U.S.-led coalition is only six, including Britain, Saudi Arabia, and Australia, because U.S. President Trump unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran and has escalated the level of military readiness in the region.

Koike said that what Japan should do now is to urge Iran not to produce heightened tensions while persuading the Trump administration to return to the nuclear deal. He went on to say that the Japanese government should work hard to create peace in the region through peaceful diplomacy that utilizes Article 9 of the Constitution.

Past related articles:
> Abe gov’t seeks to send SDF to Middle East without obtaining Diet approval [December 3, 2019]
> Abe government to consider dispatching SDF to Middle East [October 19, 2019]
> Don’t send SDF to work with Trump’s ‘coalition of willing’ against Iran: Shii [July 13, 2019]
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