The ruling coalition parties endorsed on Wednesday a government plan to dispatch a Maritime Self-Defense Force transport vessel to ship heavy machinery from Thailand to countries neighboring Afghanistan.
New Komeito, LDP’s junior coalition partner, has been cautious toward the move, claiming it may lead to a further expansion of Self-Defense Forces activities in Afghanistan.
Reflecting such concern, the plan will clarify that additional dispatches will be limited to one at a time.
The machinery will be used to maintain and repair U.S. airport facilities in Afghanistan. The Cabinet is expected to approve the plan Friday.
Party officials also agreed to allow the SDF to provide logistic support to U.S. military forces in Afghanistan for another six months. The extension does not require Diet approval, but the government plans to provide lawmakers with an explanation, party sources said.
Although Defense Agency chief Shigeru Ishiba has hinted at the possibility of sending a warship equipped with the Aegis air-defense system, the plan was apparently scrapped due to strong opposition from New Komeito.
LDP Secretary General Taku Yamasaki noted that a future dispatch of an Aegis destroyer would be “open to debate.”
Tetsuzo Fuyushiba of New Komeito did not rule out the possibility of a future dispatch, saying it was a matter of political judgment.
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