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Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008

Verhagen calls on Japan to continue MSDF tour

Staff writer

Japan should continue its naval refueling mission in the Indian Ocean and together with the Netherlands shoulder its share of international efforts to secure peace in Afghanistan, Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said during a lecture Monday in Tokyo.

Whether to extend the special antiterrorism law, which enables the Maritime Self-Defense Force to refuel multinational warships near Afghanistan, is being deliberated in the opposition-controlled Upper House.

The bill may pass the Diet with an overriding vote as early as this week. "The Netherlands and Japan should both pick up their share of the tab" to deal with the challenges of the 21st century, Verhagen said, adding that deeper involvement in Afghanistan by Japan is fully in line with its desire to promote international peace as a recently re-elected member of the United Nations Security Council.

Responsible members of the international community "need to be ready to bring hard power to the table, as the Netherlands is doing in Afghanistan," he said.

Verhagen accepted that Japanese authorities should be in charge of their own antiterrorism efforts but expressed the desire for the kind of bilateral collaboration that took place in Samawah, Iraq, where the Dutch forces provided security assistance to Ground Self-Defense Force personnel.

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The Japan Times

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