DPJ touts Afghan civilian aid

Kyodo News

Civilian aid will be more effective in helping to bring about peace and stability in Afghanistan, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said Thursday on the eve of the expiry of the law authorizing the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Indian Ocean refueling mission in support of U.S.-led antiterrorism operations.

“I greatly appreciate each of the MSDF sailors (who engaged in the mission),” he told reporters. “When it comes to the effectiveness of the policy itself, however, I don’t think the refueling work has necessarily had sufficient significance in recent years.”

Hatoyama’s Democratic Party of Japan-led government opted to end the Indian Ocean refueling mission despite calls from Washington officials that it be continued.

In November, the government announced it would extend up to $5 billion, or about ¥450 billion, in civilian aid to Afghanistan in measures to replace the mission aimed at supporting the antiterrorism operations.

“We believe it is more important to offer more direct, civilian support to help people in Afghanistan acquire economic stability and peace,” Hatoyama said Thursday.