Aso wary of Afghan deployment

Kyodo News

Prime Minister Taro Aso struck a negative note Tuesday on a possible dispatch of the Self-Defense Forces to Afghanistan, citing legal restrictions on engaging in combat.

“We cannot dismiss the possibility that the SDF could be sucked into warfare. There are differences of opinion on whether the Constitution allows us to fight back,” Aso told a House of Councilors committee session.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura, Aso’s right-hand man, also expressed caution about the possible participation of the SDF in the activities of the International Security Assistance Force.

“When we consider our country’s participation in the ISAF, careful consideration would be necessary with regard to the Constitution,” Kawamura said before the Upper House committee on foreign affairs and defense.

The U.S. has sounded out Japan about sending ground troops to Afghanistan to help reconstruct the war-torn country in addition to its ongoing refueling mission in the Indian Ocean.