January 2, 2003
Tokyo, Japan — The government plans to draft a new law to pave the way for Tokyo to provide noncombatant support to the U.S. military in case of a U.S. attack on Iraq, a national newspaper said Wednesday.
The Mainichi Shimbun [newspaper] said the Japanese support is expected to focus on fuel supplies to U.S. Navy vessels and cargo shipment as in the case with Tokyo’s support to the U.S. military in the U.S.-led war against terrorism in Afghanistan.
“There is a need to demonstrate the Japan-U.S. alliance is strong,” a government official was quoted as saying.
The government intends to submit a related bill to the ordinary Diet session slated to be convened Jan 20, but there is a cautious view within the government and ruling parties about putting priority on Diet debate on the new law over that on the budget for fiscal 2003, the newspaper said.
Japan currently provides the U.S. military involved in the war against terrorism with logistic support under a law on support for antiterrorism activities, but a possible U.S. war against Iraq would not be covered under the law.
The Mainichi said the government is also considering mapping out a law to provide logistic support to U.S.-led forces to be stationed in Iraq after the war and supply assistance to refugees in neighboring countries.