As Japan’s contribution to U.N. peacekeeping activities comes under Diet debate in connection with the planned alliance between the Liberal Democratic Party and the Liberal Party, some LDP members launched a forum Tuesday urging more public discussion on the issue.

The forum, headed by former Foreign Minister Koji Kakizawa, also aims to compile suggestions on the direction Japan’s security should take through participation in U.N. activities by watching how the LDP-Liberal Party talks develop. “Japan’s contribution to U.N. (peace-related) activities has been debated for so many years with much meandering,” Kakizawa said at the beginning of the day’s meeting. “It is important to get a public consensus on the issue.”

While the forum is not against the LDP-Liberal alliance, it is concerned that the issue of allowing Self-Defense Forces elements to participate in U.N. military operations and multilateral forces will be decided hastily and without much public debate, said Upper House member Ichita Yamamoto, who heads the forum’s secretariat.

Liberal Party leader Ichiro Ozawa said the agreement he reached Nov. 19 with Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, the LDP president, paves the way for SDF contingents to participate in armed U.N. operations abroad if the U.N. Security Council passes a resolution approving such operations.

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