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Politicians have mixed opinions of JSDF Iraq mission

Date Posted: 2004-01-29

The departure of Japanese Self Defense Army units to Iraq has prompted local politicians to voice their opinions on the deployment. The opinions are divided according to party, and are clearly either supportive or against the troop moves.

Okinawa Governor Keiichi Inamine is the only one who is being ambiguous in his opinion. “The prime minister should have first obtained the public’s support. He also should have pushed for taking the Iraq problem to United Nations, and then let the U.N. to decide what is the best way of solving the conflict,” Inamine said in a recent interview.

A spokesman for the Okinawa chapter of the Liberal Democratic Party said that the chapter was unanimous in supporting the action taken by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. “We totally agree with the prime minister. Our forces go to Iraq to support Iraqi people, not to wage war. We expect the Japanese Self Defense Force to help Iraqi people to rebuild their nation, and are hoping they return without harm when their task is over,” the spokesman said.

A politician representing socialists said his party was totally against sending the troops. “This should stop right now. Prime Minister Koizumi follows only America. If our Self Defense Forces help America, they also become targets. There will be Japanese casualties, and that’s when the prime minister must quit.”

Hiroshi Taba, a representative of the Communist Party of Japan, said his party is categorically against any involvement of the Self Defense Forces with any activities abroad. “If the Self Defense Forces go to Iraq it means the same as they went to a war, and that is against the constitution. The war in Iraq is illegal and against international law,” Taba stated.

Komeito, a Liberal Democratic Party coalition partner, sees the mission to Iraq as a humanitarian effort. “We see no problem with sending the Self Defense Force to Iraq. It is not a war mission, but giving a helping hand to Iraqi people. We urge them to do their best. In our opinion Japan should give humanitarian aid wherever and whenever we can,” a Komeito spokesman said.

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