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Japan Seeks to Revise the SDF Dispatch Law

Posted May. 25, 2003 21:42,   


The Japanese daily Yomiuri Shinbun, in its report on May 24, quoted a U.S. official as saying that the U.S. called upon the Japanese government to support U.S. and British forces, which are now stationed in Iraq by dispatching one thousand Self-Defense Forces (SDF) troops.

The U.S. government asked for Japan‘s assistance through unofficial routes, such as the Department of the State, Pentagon, and Japanese embassy in the U.S. It also requested Japan to dispatch six C-130 transport planes belonging to the Self-Defense Forces.

Japan‘s Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, during his summit talks with U.S. President Bush on May 23, stated, “We want to assist in post-war Iraqi construction efforts in ways our current laws permit, such as dispatching transport planes.”

Yet, current laws prevent Japan from dispatching Self-Defense Forces overseas and therefore, the Japanese government and the ruling party are working to revise a bill to support reconstruction and revitalizing efforts in Iraq.

Japan previously dispatched Self-Defense Forces to East Timor as a member of peacekeeping forces as well as the Forces‘ transport planes to help transport refugees. However, these acts were supported by a law that supports Peacekeeping Operations (PKO), which allowed military dispatches for the purpose of humanitarian aid during emergencies under U.N. resolutions.

In November 2001, Japan, under the legitimate name of the war of terrorism, sent an Aegis cruiser to help the U.S. attack in Afghanistan. However, since the war against Iraq failed to gain approval from the U.N. Council, a SDF dispatch will require a new law. Koizumi`s remarks on the legality of sending transport planes seem to be based on application of PKO.

Hun-Joo Cho hanscho@donga.com