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The Day of the Japanese Aegis Vessel Departure

Posted December. 16, 2002 22:16,   


The top the line war vessel, Aegis vessel, `Kirishima` (7250 Ton) of the Japan Marine Self Defense Force has left the Yokosuka base on the 16th morning, headed to the Indian Ocean in the midst of unconstitutional criticism regarding the collective defense right. This vessel is to support the U.S. in the rear in case the U.S. attacks Iraq. This is the very first time that the Aegis Vessel is sent out abroad.

In three weeks, Kirishima, with around 260 Self Defense Force Members boarded, will arrive at the Arabian Sea, north of the Indian Sea, after passing through the Staraight of Malacca to alternate with the Escort Vessel, `Hihei,` of the Marin Self Defense Force.

Kirishima, which possesses the high technological information detecting ability, is responsible for protecting the supplying vessel for four months. This vessel supplies fuel to the US and England War Vessels who are launching the Afghanistan Terrorist Sweeping Operation for

During the departing ceremony, around 700 people of the Self Defense Force members and their families attended and prayed for their safe return, but also there was a demonstration done by the civil organization in opposition to the send out of Kirishima.

General Fukuda Yasuo emphasized the necessity of this send out during the press conference held that day by saying, “I think Japan also needs to accomplish an international mission. The citizens must understand this necessity.” However, Representative Ganjaki Dakenori from the Justice Party of the Union government party expressed, “It is a shame that the Japanese government made a decision to send out the Aegis vessel. We`ll be watching closely to see if the strict application is practiced within the boundaries of the Constitution, not conflicting with the collective defense right.”

Kirishima is one of the four Aegis Vessels possessed by the Marine Defense Force. They are all entrained with the radar which is able to cover 5 times larger scope than the Escort Vessels and the computer system which is 8 times faster in processing information. Thus, many people are in anxiety that Japan might be dragged into a war due to the joint information and participation in the military actions.

In Japan, there has been a debate over whether this kind of role is applicable to the collective Defense Exerciser, which is prohibited by the Constitution. Japanese government has been promoting the send out of the Aegis Vessel ever since last year`s 9/11 but have been postponed it due to the opposition from the joint partners of the Union Party (Justice Party and Opposition Party). However, their official decision to send out the vessel has been made on the 4th of December.

Defense Department has explained that information exchange with the US, which may lead to a direct use of armed force, will not be done. However, according to the public opinion survey reported on the 16th Asahi Newspaper, Approval was 40% and Opposition was 48% from 2037 responses, which shows that the public opinion stands tightly against one another.

Young-Ee Lee yes202@donga.com