The government should consider applying the 2001 antiterrorism law to the impending U.S.-led war on Iraq if Washington can prove its actions are part of the fight against terrorism, according to a Defense Agency think tank.
In this year’s “East Asian Strategic Review,” released Tuesday, the National Institute for Defense Studies says that the government will have to offer some form of support, given Japan’s close ties with the United States.
The antiterrorism law allows logistic support for the U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan for a set period.
“Although it is out of the question for Japan to provide direct military support, it is likely to be called on to make some sort of contribution in the area of logistics and reconstruction, as an ally to the U.S., and there is probably no choice but to do so,” the report says.
Although such an understanding is shared by government officials, they are cautious about using the antiterrorism law to cover such cooperation out of fear it would undermine the basic aim of the law. The government is instead leaning toward drafting new legislation to offer assistance in the war on Iraq.
The institute also said the government will need to take “full-fledged and long-term” counterterrorism measures, which go beyond the framework of the current legislation, as the U.S. antiterrorism campaign expands geographically and becomes protracted.
The government has twice extended the time limit of the antiterrorism law in line with the prolonged campaign in Afghanistan. The law is now valid until May.
As one example of a long-term counterterrorism strategy, the institute called for the government to build firm relations within Eurasia — especially Central Asia — which Japan has failed to do despite a 1997 speech by then Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto declaring the region the focal point of global diplomacy.
The report says the U.S. has increased its military presence in the region as well as in Southeast Asia since the 2001 terrorist attacks.
The National Institute for Defense Studies, founded in 1952, is a research arm on strategic policy similar to national defense universities abroad.
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