The Constitution allows the Self-Defense Forces to provide logistic support to United Nations-led multinational forces, but the provision of weapons and ammunition by the SDF will be determined on a case-by-case basis, Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi said Monday.

Responding to questions raised by Democratic Party of Japan leader Naoto Kan during a Lower House Budget Committee session, Obuchi said the SDF will be allowed to provide logistic support to multinational forces as long as they are not involved in military or any other action that may be interpreted as the use of force.

Asked whether logistic support can include providing weapons and ammunition, Obuchi said this would be determined based on the situation, and that it would be difficult to decide beforehand. “Regarding logistic support for multinational forces, while we maintain our position that those tasks will not involve military actions, what kind of support can be provided will be decided on a case-by-case basis depending on characteristics of the multinational operations,” Obuchi said.

Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura told the same session that it is permissible for the SDF to deliver weapons and ammunition to U.N.-led multinational operations. “We cannot completely rule out such a possibility,” he said.

The government has clearly ruled out the possibility of letting the SDF transport weapons and ammunition to battle zones where actual fighting is taking place, but whether the SDF will be allowed to deliver such supplies to other areas has been unclear.

Monday’s remarks by the prime minister indicated that logistic support could include delivery of weapons and ammunition in some cases.

Later in the day, however, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka expressed caution, noting in a news conference that Japan has no legal framework for dealing with multinational forces.

The government considers it possible that Japan would transport ammunition and weapons under bills for the recently revised Japan-U.S. defense cooperation guidelines, Nonaka said.

During Monday’s Diet session, Kan also urged Obuchi to completely separate fiscal and financial authorities in line with an agreement reached last fall by the Liberal Democratic Party, the DPJ and the now-defunct Heiwa-Kaikaku parliamentary group.

According to the agreement, financial authorities will be separated from the Finance Ministry no later than Jan. 1, 2000.

However, Kan said, such a separation has not been stipulated in the government’s draft of bills to cover administrative reforms that is to be submitted to the Diet as early as April.

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