Japan should consider implementing a permanent law that stipulates the principles under which the Self-Defense Forces can be dispatched overseas, rather than drawing up sunset legislation every time the need arises, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Wednesday.

The comment came during debate on a bill to authorize an SDF dispatch to Iraq. The law would expire after four years.

A similar law already exists. The antiterrorism law, which allows the SDF to provide logistic support to the antiterror campaign in Afghanistan, expires in November, and the government is seeking a two-year extension.

Some within the Liberal Democratic Party have urged the government to establish a permanent law that defines the SDF’s role in postconflict reconstruction. This way, special legislation would not be needed every time a new hot spot flares up.

The government’s case-by-case approach regarding SDF deployment has also been criticized by some experts.

“There are opinions within the LDP that a permanent law is more desirable in considering what kind of peacekeeping activities the SDF should engage in within the framework of the Constitution,” Koizumi said during the debate at the House of Representatives. “Drafting a permanent law should be considered as a future issue after taking into account national debate on the matter.”

Koizumi was fielding questions from lawmakers representing New Komeito and the Liberal Party.

Later in the day, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda voiced hope for an early debate on the issue.

“If there are calls for a permanent law,” he said. “I would hope (the debate) begins soon.”

On the Iraq bill, Fukuda said the government has no plans to drop a reference to past U.N. Security Council resolutions targeting Iraq as a basis for Japan’s support of the U.S.-led war, dashing hopes of a possible compromise between the ruling and opposition parties.

Opposition parties that have argued against the war in Iraq say it is unacceptable for the government to cite U.N. resolutions in the bill as a justification for war.

“We put the resolutions in the bill because we believe they are absolutely necessary as a basis (for supporting the war),” Fukuda said.

Asked whether the government would consider omitting the reference when the ruling and opposition camps discuss possible revisions, Fukuda said: “Absolutely not.”

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