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Data collected by a Japanese Aegis-equipped destroyer in the Indian Ocean cannot be divided into information relevant to the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan and information relating to a possible attack on Iraq, Defense Agency chief Shigeru Ishiba said Friday.

The remark, delivered at a session of the House of Representatives Budget Committee, could pose legal problems for the government.

Japan dispatched the destroyer on the basis of a special antiterrorism law that specifically validates logistic support for the campaign in Afghanistan — but no other missions.

The weapons system carried by the state-of-the-art destroyer, which can use its powerful radar system to track several targets simultaneously, is linked to the data systems deployed by U.S. military forces.

“I think it’s difficult to clearly separate data, saying this is for this, that for that” when sorting through any information collected by the 7,250-ton Kirishima, Ishiba told the committee.

The issue of whether to dispatch the destroyer to support the U.S.-led activities in Afghanistan prompted a fierce debate, as the war-renouncing Constitution is viewed as prohibiting Japan’s right to exercise collective defense.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told the committee that Japan will decide whether to support continued inspections of Iraqi facilities or the use of military force after the next report on U.N. inspections is presented Feb. 14.

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