English | 日本語

Japan's opposition to object aiding U.S.-led Afghan mission

Tokyo, July 30, 2007 (AP): Japan's main opposition party said Monday it is against extending Japan's mission in support of U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan, a day after it won a stunning election victory over Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition.

The Japanese navy has provided fuel for coalition warships in the Indian Ocean since November 2001 under a special anti-terrorism law, which has been extended four times, most recently on May 1. The current mission is set to expire in November.

"We have always been fundamentally opposed to extending this law," said Yukio Hatoyama, secretary-general of the Democratic Party of Japan.

"The upper house elections have shown the country agrees, and so we will be expected to keep that line," he told reporters in Tokyo.

The Indian Ocean dispatch has been part of Tokyo's recent attempts to raise its international profile. It also sent noncombat troops to help rebuild southern Iraq following the U.S.-led invasion.

But the DPJ has criticized both operations, saying Japan's international efforts should be channeled through the United Nations, not the United States. Others say the missions violate the nation's pacifist constitution, which prohibits the use of force in solving international disputes.

Although Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner lost control of parliament's upper house in Sunday's elections, Abe could still force an extension to the mission because the LDP controls parliament's more powerful lower house, which can override a vote in the upper chamber.

Still, Abe's loss at the polls, which has been widely interpreted as a loss of mandate, may force the embattled leader to make policy concessions to the Democrats.