Japan asked to extend duration of SDF support

Kyodo

The United States on Monday asked Japan to extend the time frame of the logistic support its Self-Defense Forces are providing to the U.S.-led antiterrorism campaign in Afghanistan.

Senior Vice Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told a news conference in Washington that U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage made the request during talks earlier in the day.

Japan’s logistic support involves providing SDF vessels to help with the refueling of U.S. and British military ships in the northern Arabian Sea. The basic policy governing Japan’s involvement in the antiterrorism campaign will expire Nov. 19.

The government is planning to extend the duration of the support by another six months.

Armitage did not bring up the possibility of expanding the scope of support, Motegi said.

In a document sent last month, the U.S. asked Japan to expand the refueling operation to include the area off Somalia and provide oil to vessels from Germany and other countries engaged in maritime inspections.

Ashcroft seeks treaty

Citing the Oct. 12 bomb blasts in Bali, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft on Tuesday reiterated in Tokyo the need for the world community to bolster information and law enforcement networks.

Speaking at the U.S. Embassy, Ashcroft voiced sorrow over the Bali fatalities, stating that the U.S. and other members of the international community must “elevate the capacity to not only gather information but also to make it available in a timely fashion.”

“We can work to provide exchange of information and analysis of that information, so that we can help avoid terrorist attacks,” he said that are now carried out in a variety of ways around the world in terms of planning, training and financing, he said.

In this regard, he stressed Washington’s emphasis on prevention as well as prosecution.

Ashcroft said he expects Tokyo and Washington to shortly sign a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.

Such a treaty would stipulate guidelines and regular procedures for prosecutions, allowing both sides to access evidence and exchange information in a manner that would expedite prosecutions of cross-border crimes.