Permanent law on SDF overseas dispatch in the works: Fukuda

by Kaho Shimizu

Looking to avoid another round of Diet wrangling over the dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said Tuesday that the government will draft permanent legislation during the current Diet session allowing for the dispatch of the SDF overseas for multinational operations.

Fukuda, who said he discussed the issue earlier in the day with senior Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Taku Yamazaki, told reporters, “The opposition parties, especially the Democratic Party of Japan, have long been calling for discussion on a permanent law, so we would be happy to do so.”

But given the split Diet, Fukuda said the bill’s fate depends on the opposition, which controls the Upper House.

Last November, when a special law expired, Japan had to withdraw Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels providing logistic support in the Indian Ocean for the U.S.-led antiterrorism operations in and around Afghanistan.

The MSDF refueling mission was resumed in February only after Fukuda’s ruling coalition rammed new special legislation through the divided Diet in January. For the first time in 57 years, the Lower House resorted to a provision allowing for an override of the opposition-controlled Upper House.

With another fierce battle looming when the current law expires in January, the government is eager to start discussing a permanent law.

SOFA revision

Kyodo News

The Democratic Party of Japan and two smaller opposition allies compiled Tuesday a joint proposal to revise the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement to make it mandatory for the United States to hand over U.S. military personnel suspected of crimes on the order of Japanese authorities, the parties’ members said.

The DPJ, the Social Democratic Party and Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party) plan to formally approve the proposal Thursday and to urge the government to review the bilateral accord.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura, however, rejected the proposal.