The Self-Defense Forces personnel to be dispatched to Iraq will engage in logistic support for security, humanitarian and reconstruction assistance, and disposal of weapons of mass destruction, according to the government’s outline of a new bill unveiled Monday.
The government presented the outline to the ruling parties in the afternoon. The bill is to be submitted to the Diet on Friday after receiving Cabinet approval.
Under the bill, the government would for the first time allow the dispatch of SDF personnel to a foreign country without receiving that country’s prior consent — a decision made in light of the fact that no government by the Iraqi people exists at the moment.
The bill instead says the SDF troops would operate in Iraq “with the consent of international organizations that govern Iraq in accordance with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1483,” which lifted economic sanctions on Iraq and called for international support for its reconstruction.
In a meeting with the ruling parties, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said Iraq lacks electricity, communications infrastructure, administrative structure and medical services.
“Under such circumstances, operations by the ‘self-sufficient’ SDF will be effective,” Fukuda was quoted as saying by Taku Yamasaki, secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party.
To avoid conflict with the war-renouncing Constitution, the bill stipulates that SDF personnel would operate “only in noncombatant areas,” and that their use of weapons “must be limited in cases of self-defense and defense of other people under their control.” Such limitations follow the 2001 antiterrorism law.
The SDF would not supply weapons and ammunition or supply fuel for aircraft preparing for combat operations, according to the outline.
The law, to be effective for four years, can be extended, it says. The SDF’s activities would have to be approved by the Diet within 20 days of the dispatch order.
To maintain security in Iraq, SDF personnel would transport and supply materials to international troops.
In humanitarian and reconstruction assistance, they would provide food, clothing and other relief materials to Iraqi people, offer medical assistance, engage in reconstruction of infrastructure and give advice on administrative work.
The SDF troops would also collect and dispose of weapons of mass destruction.
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said it was “appropriate timing” to make a new law now that the United Nations has passed resolution 1483.
Fukuda told a news conference later in the day it will be “at least another month or two” before the SDF is dispatched.
Asked how “noncombatant areas” would be defined, given the unstable security situation in Iraq, Fukuda replied that the government will “assess the situation at that time” in deciding specific areas of operation.
No ruling party members voiced opposition at Monday’s meeting with the government, according to Fukuda and party officials.
However, for the law to be enacted during the current session, an extension beyond the June 18 closing date is inevitable. How long the session should be extended will trigger a political tug of war, although no one brought up the extension Monday.
“It’s up to the Diet to decide,” Fukuda said. “I expect that the Diet will take necessary measures.”
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