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Saturday, Sept. 1, 2007

Lower House might be dissolved if MSDF duty isn't extended: Ishihara

Staff writer

His party reeling from defeat in the recent Upper House election, Liberal Democratic Party policy chief Nobuteru Ishihara warned Friday that failure to renew the special antiterrorism law, up for debate in an extraordinary Diet session set to start Sept. 10, could lead to the dissolution of the Lower House.

The law, which authorizes the Maritime Self-Defense Force to deploy ships to the Indian Ocean to refuel multinational forces involved in the NATO-led antiterrorism operations in Afghanistan, expires on Nov. 1.

"Afghanistan is where (Osama) bin Laden and al-Qaida (are located), and the antiterrorism law is enabling activities to prevent narcotics from Afghanistan to be sold around the world and the money used for international terrorism," Ishihara told reporters in a group interview.

"I think that the decision by the Diet (whether to extend the antiterrorism law) will be pivotal in (determining) when (the Lower House) will be dissolved."

Ichiro Ozawa, leader of the Democratic Party of Japan — the party that gained most in the July 29 Upper House election — has repeatedly expressed his opposition to extending the law.

Ishihara said the LDP is willing to be flexible enough to respect the opposition parties' views.

"I think that the members of the DPJ also feel that terrorism, which threatens the peace and security of the international community, must be prevented," Ishihara said.

"Because the operation in the Indian Ocean is a military mission, disclosure of information will be limited, but I am hoping that through information disclosure, the DPJ will gain a deeper understanding" of the counterterrorism effort.

As the only country technically able to refuel Pakistani ships, Ishihara stressed the importance of Japan's participation.

The special antiterrorism law was enacted following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. The law took effect in November 2001, and has been extended three times.

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The Japan Times

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