ASDF Iraq duty extended two years

Kyodo News

The House of Councilors enacted a special measures law Wednesday designed to extend the Air Self-Defense Force’s Iraq airlift mission by two years.

The majority vote by the ruling bloc — the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito — beat out those cast by lawmakers of the Democratic Party of Japan, the Japanese Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party and Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party).

The law to revise the special measures law on Iraqi reconstruction assistance, approved by the House of Representatives on May 15, allows for the ASDF deployment to Kuwait to run through July 2009. The Cabinet is expected to formally endorse the extension next month.

The ASDF unit in Kuwait is engaged in airlifting supplies and personnel in Iraq for U.S.-led multinational forces and the United Nations between Baghdad, Taril in the south and Irbil in the north. The operations and coverage are expected to remain unchanged after an extension.

During Diet deliberations, government officials said there have been requests for continued ASDF operations from U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and 26 countries are providing continued support for Iraq.