From AFP news agency:
Japan’s ‘war on terror’ ends
By Kyoko Hasegawa
Published: Nov 02, 2007
TOKYO – Japan has ordered home ships engaged on a refuelling mission in the Indian Ocean, halting the close US ally’s main role in the “war on terror” due to domestic opposition.
Japan, which has been officially pacifist since the end of World War II, has supplied fuel to US and other forces operating in Afghanistan under legislation first passed after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
But the government failed to extend the mission as the main opposition party, which controls one house of parliament, has vowed that Japan should not take part in “American wars.”
Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba issued orders at 3:00 pm (0600 GMT) for Japan’s two ships in the Indian Ocean – the destroyer Kirisame and the supply ship Tokiwa – to return to Japan.
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, whose predecessor quit in September in part due to his failure to prolong the deployment, vowed to “do my utmost for the swift passage” of new legislation to resume the operation. …
The United States has strongly urged Japan to reconsider its decision.
“We would like for those refuellings to continue and we will be talking to the Japanese,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said, adding that Fukuda would likely come to the United States in two weeks.
Coalition nations had tried for weeks with no success to persuade the opposition to change its mind.
Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer voiced “concern” about Japan’s move. …
The German parliament last month extended the country’s troop deployment despite waning public support.
But Japan is in a unique political situation. The opposition in July won control of one house of parliament on a backlash over a raft of scandals under the government of then prime minister Shinzo Abe.
Main opposition leader Ichiro Ozawa – ironically a longtime proponent of an active military role for Japan – has vowed to fight Fukuda on his legislative priorities until he calls early general elections.
Fukuda and Ozawa are due to hold talks after a meeting earlier this week failed to reach a breakthrough. …
The Indian Ocean mission at the time was groundbreaking for Japan, although it later went a step further and sent troops, since withdrawn, on a non-combat reconstruction mission to Iraq.