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Thursday, Oct. 11, 2007

DPJ CHIEF OK WITH COMBAT ZONE MISSION

Afghan SDF mission constitutional, Ozawa says


Staff writer

Ichiro Ozawa, president of the Democratic Party of Japan, said Wednesday the Self-Defense Forces' participation in NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan would not violate the Constitution, contrary to the claims of the Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito ruling coalition, which has rejected his proposal.

During a news conference, Ozawa pointed out that Japan is a signatory of the U.N. and activities authorized by that body, including the ISAF, should not, therefore, be viewed as unconstitutional.

"Japan became a member (of the U.N.), promising to answer to its every possible demand, to give its full cooperation," Ozawa said. If joining the ISAF activities is unconstitutional, "that would make (Japan) a liar. That would mean that Japan's Constitution and the U.N. Charter are inconsistent."

The ruling coalition is desperate to extend the special antiterrorism law enabling the Maritime Self-Defense Force to refuel multinational naval ships engaged in counterterrorism activities in the Indian Ocean.

But Ozawa repeatedly expressed his intention to block the extension of the special law because the MSDF activities are part of the U.S.-led Operation Enduring Freedom-Maritime Interdiction Operation, which is not U.N.-authorized, and therefore, such activities are unconstitutional. Instead, Ozawa suggested Japan should participate in the ISAF activities in Afghanistan.

During a Lower House Budget Committee meeting Tuesday, however, both Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura and Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba dismissed Ozawa's suggestion since Afghanistan is a "combat zone."

According to the government's official view, it is unconstitutional for Japan to directly support countries with the use of force. The special antiterrorism law thus limits the SDF's activities to logistic support in noncombat zones.

"Even at the risk of some danger, Japan must be prepared to take a stance to protect peace with all of the other (countries)," Ozawa said Wednesday. "It is not the consensus of the international society nor the people of Japan to just (obey) the United States."

Meanwhile, Ozawa firmly denied, as recently reported by the media, that his fund management body violated the Political Funds Control Law by earning ¥9.8 million in rent through last year. Receiving rent for investment purposes could be a violation of the law.

Ozawa said he was receiving rent because it would be wrong to rent out the apartments free of charge.

Cabinet to OK new bill

Kyodo News

A new bill for continuing the Maritime Self Defense Force's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean is to be approved by Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's Cabinet next week for submission to the Diet, Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura said Wednesday.

"There is no change in the government's plan to approve the bill at the Cabinet level after taking into account deliberations in the Diet budget committees, so we intend to decide the matter at the Cabinet on or after Wednesday afternoon," Machimura said.



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