The Liberal Democratic Party and the Liberal Party confirmed Wednesday that the Self-Defense Forces will not participate in United Nations armed operations, according to representatives of the two parties.

During a meeting of one of five groups working to iron out policy gaps between the parties, the two sides agreed that based upon the principles of the Constitution, Japan will participate in U.N. peace activities, according to the two leaders of the project team on security issues.

But in what appears to be a softening of the Liberal Party’s stance, the two parties confirmed that Japan will not participate in U.N. armed operations and exchanged views on what kind of rear-area support the SDF can provide.

The Liberal Party had been pushing to allow the SDF to participate in a wide range of U.N. activities if authorized by U.N. resolutions.

Two of the parties’ five working groups — one seeking common ground on security and defense issues, and another discussing the introduction of a more powerful deputy ministerial system — resumed their discussions Wednesday.

The two teams separately agreed that they will try to wrap up their discussions and hammer out joint policies before Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi returns from Europe Jan. 13 to pave the way for the establishment of a coalition government.

On the issue of Japan’s rear-area support, while the LDP urged the Liberal Party that such support should be limited to such areas as medical treatment and supplying water, the Liberal Party suggested that they should instead make a list of things the SDF cannot do. “Since there may emerge unexpected issues concerning rear-area support in the future, we agreed the Cabinet should discuss (means of support) on a case-by-case basis,” said Yuya Nisa, head of the project team on the LDP side. They also said the Japan-U.S. Security Pact is indispensable for Japan’s security and for ensuring peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

At the meeting of the project team on the introduction of a more powerful deputy ministerial system, the Liberal Party proposed its draft plan of the new system to the LDP.

According to the Liberal Party’s proposal, two additional posts would be created within each government ministry and agency — in addition to the current parliamentary vice ministers — to give politicians more power in the administrative system.

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