Officials of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party hinted Sunday at a flexible stance Sunday on discussions with the opposition over a bill which, if passed, will allow the dispatch of Self-Defense Forces troops to help rebuild Iraq.
The officials made comments suggesting the relaxed stance on several TV programs during the day.
Meanwhile, members of the Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition force, expressed its plans to push for revisions to the bill, such as requiring Diet approval prior to any such dispatch.
Other opposition parties said they were against such a deployment, citing that Iraq is currently under military rule and that the bill supports the U.S. and British occupation of the country.
The dispatch of SDF overseas is a sensitive issue in Japan due to the nation’s war-renouncing Constitution.
“It will be good if, when the SDF go overseas, they are dispatched amid applause from a large majority of Japanese,” Fumio Kyuma, acting chairman of the LDP’s Policy Research Council, said.
“We would like to create an atmosphere in which the SDF can leave in high spirits,” Kyuma said, referring to the LDP’s plan to pass the bill after achieving support from some of the opposition parties.
DPJ policy chief Yukio Edano said the Diet’s prior approval on any SDF dispatch “will be a decisive factor” in revision discussions, but added it would not be the only point.
The DPJ remained vague on whether it supports the bill, though it showed a positive stance toward Japan being involved in the reconstruction of Iraq.
DPJ Secretary General Katsuya Okada asked if there was any specific need to utilize the SDF in the rebuilding operations, while Edano said the party cannot easily say whether it supports the bill “because we have not heard from the government any clear explanation regarding the bill itself.”
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi submitted the bill to the Diet on Friday and wants to have the new law enacted by late July. The move to enable the SDF dispatch came after U.S. President George W. Bush expressed hope last month that Japanese forces will provide logistic support for humanitarian and reconstruction activities in Iraq.
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