U.S. aircraft receiving fuel provided by the Self-Defense Forces and subsequently attacking Iraq would not constitute an act of collective defense, Osamu Akiyama, Cabinet legislation bureau director general, said Thursday.

“The logical conclusion is that it would not correspond to our country’s use of force or exercising of the right to collective defense,” Akiyama said in an appearance before the House of Councilors Budget Committee.

“The nature of supplying fuel itself does not correspond to use of force,” Akiyama said of the rear-area logistic support the SDF is providing to the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan in accordance with a special antiterrorism law enacted in 2001.

The legislation stipulates that the SDF’s activities be limited to noncombat zones, the bureau head explained. The law is also specific to helping U.S.-led counterterrorism activities in Afghanistan.

The SDF has dispatched destroyers — one equipped with the advanced Aegis missile-defense system — and fuel-replenishing vessels to the Indian Ocean to take part in refueling of U.S. and British ships in the area.

During the same committee session, Defense Agency chief Shigeru Ishiba said he has not confirmed any reports about U.S. carrier aircraft using fuel provided by SDF vessels and then engaging in military activities in areas other than Afghanistan.

The government believes that under international law, Japan has the right to collective defense, which is the right to use force to counter a foreign attack on an ally.

But the government says exercising that right is not allowed under the war-renouncing Constitution, which is interpreted as allowing Japan to use military force only for self-defense.

The Cabinet Legislation Bureau assists the Cabinet on legislative matters by examining bills and drafts of Cabinet orders and treaties that are to be brought before the Cabinet, and undertakes interpretation of laws.

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