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Lower House approves Defense Guideline bills

Date Posted: 1999-05-01

Bills to implement the new U.S.-Japan defense cooperation guidelines passed a Lower House plenary session Tuesday, paving the way for Japan's Self-Defense Forces to provide greater logistical support for U.S. forces during emergencies in "areas surrounding Japan." The bills are expected to gain final approval from the Upper House in late May. Prime Minister Obuchi hailed the passing of the bills, saying the result would further strengthen Japan-U.S. ties. The prime minister leaves for the United States on April 29, and is scheduled to meet with President Clinton on May 3. Meanwhile, Kyodo news reports Okinawa Governor Inamine has underlined "the importance of avoiding a situation in which the lives and assets of the prefecture's citizens are affected when ports, airports and hospitals are used under bills aimed at implementing U.S.-Japan defense cooperation guidelines."

In other news Monday, Yuya Niwa, deputy chief of the Liberal Democratic party's policy affairs council, was, according to a Japan Times newspaper report, asked "whether Japan will provide support to U.S. forces in the event that Okinawa is targeted by a North Korean missile." According to the Japan Times report it would depend on the government's decision on "whether it will severely affect Japan's peace and stability," it quoted Niwa as saying.

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