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Report: Japan will not send troops to Afghanistan

Report: Japan will not send troops to Afghanistan

Japan's prime minister told U.S. President George W. Bush that Tokyo will not send troops to Afghanistan due to opposition from a crucial coalition partner but will extend a refueling mission in the Indian Ocean, a news agency reported Saturday.
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda informed Bush of the decision in July during talks in Hokkaido, northern Japan, Kyodo News agency said, citing several unnamed diplomatic sources.
Representatives of the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office could not be reached for comment early Saturday.
Japan, a key U.S. ally in Asia, has been considering deploying troops in Afghanistan on a noncombat mission and sent a fact-finding team to the country in June to assess the security situation and report back to the government.
The New Komeito party _ a major partner in Japan's ruling coalition with Fukuda's Liberal Democratic Party _ raised objections to the proposed mission because of the deteriorating security in Afghanistan, Kyodo said.
Japan's parliament would need to pass a new law authorizing a deployment in Afghanistan, but the prime minister realized it would be difficult to push legislation through the powerful lower house without the New Komeito party's support.
The Liberal Democrats and New Komeito together command a two-thirds majority in the lower house of the parliament.
Japanese military ships in the Indian Ocean supported U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan for six years until the political opposition in Tokyo blocked the mission's extension last year.
Japanese vessels, however, continue to assist in refueling other nations' ships conducting anti-terror patrols in the Indian Ocean. That naval mission is due to expire in January 2009, and Fukuda promised Bush during the July talks that Tokyo would extend it, Kyodo reported.
Japan's military is restricted to peaceful activities by its postwar, pacifist constitution, but it is gradually becoming more assertive. It provided ground troops for a noncombat, humanitarian mission from 2004 to 2006 in the southern Iraqi city of Samawah, marking the Japanese military's first deployment in a combat zone since World War II.


Updated : 2021-04-21 07:45 GMT+08:00