Team off to assess SDF Afghan role

Kyodo News

A team of government officials has left for Afghanistan to explore the possibility of sending the Self-Defense Forces there on an assistance mission, sources said Monday.

The team, comprising officials of the Foreign Ministry and the Defense Ministry as well as SDF officers, is expected to visit Kabul as well as provincial cities where airlifting of supplies, road repairs and other forms of infrastructure development may be conducted by the SDF, according to the government sources.

At the earliest, the government could submit the legal framework for an SDF mission to Afghanistan if the Diet is convened for an extraordinary session in the second half of August.

One option on the table for such a framework is adding provisions stipulating a mission in Afghanistan to an existing law enabling the Maritime Self-Defense Force to provide refueling support in the Indian Ocean for multinational forces engaged in antiterrorism operations in Afghanistan.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura and Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura have advocated considering an SDF mission to Afghanistan. New Komeito, the coalition partner of the governing Liberal Democratic Party, has shown reservations about such a move.