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Thursday, Aug. 30, 2007

Abe, Merkel pressure DPJ on MSDF mission


Staff writer

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday emphasized the importance of the Maritime Self-Defense Force mission in the Indian Ocean in support of the NATO-led antiterrorist campaign, putting pressure on the Democratic Party of Japan to cooperate in renewing it.

The special law that allows the refueling mission to continue expires Nov. 1, and the DPJ — which along with other opposition parties seized control of the Upper House in an election in July — has vowed to let it expire.

The law allows MSDF ships to provide fuel to vessels of nations involved in the NATO-led operations in Afghanistan.

"Continuation of the MSDF activity is widely expected by the global society," Abe said at the joint news conference. Merkel echoed: "I'd like to stress once again that Germany thinks Japan's contribution to the war against terrorism is important.

"The situation is difficult, but it is necessary that the international society shows it will not give in to terrorism," she said, adding she plans to discuss the war on terror and other topics when she meets DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa on Thursday.

The two nations also agreed worldwide cooperation is needed to slow global warming.

In May, Abe released a new global greenhouse gas initiative calling for emissions to be halved from their current levels by 2050. The proposal would help Japan take the lead in international efforts against global warming by having a new plan ready when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. This could be announced when Japan hosts the Group of Eight summit next July in Hokkaido.

"We have to form a flexible framework so that all major emitters can join," Abe said.

Merkel welcomed Japan's proposal.



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