Japan Extends Military Support
The Japanese government said it had extended for six months a logistical support mission in the Indian Ocean for US-led military operations in Afghanistan. Japanese supply ships have been refueling naval vessels from the United States, Britain and eight other countries in the Indian Ocean in what was a landmark mission for the officially pacifist country. The current six-month mission is to expire on May 1. Defense Agency chief Fukushiro Nukaga said it was too early to tell what would happen after the latest extension. “We have decided on the six-month extension. We will make our decisions after this,“ Nukaga told a regular press conference. Japan has so far extended the term of the mission every six months since December 2001, when the country began the “anti-terrorism“ mission in the Indian Ocean in the wake of the September 11 attacks in the United States. It was the most far-reaching military mission yet for Japan since it renounced war following its defeat in World War II. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi later, however, went further by deploying a reconstruction mission to Iraq, the first time since World War II that Japanese soldiers have been in a country where fighting is underway.