Japan intends to continue providing free fuel to U.S. warships in the Arabian Sea, despite a pact that allows it to charge fees, according to government sources.

It also plans to extend the deployment of Maritime Self-Defense Force ships to the Arabian Sea as part of its logistic support for U.S.-led antiterrorism operations in the area for another six months beyond Nov. 1, the sources said.

Some within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party have said Japan should charge for the fuel because the revised bilateral Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement that took effect in late July allows for supplies and goods to be exchanged for money.

But the Japanese government determined that it is best to continue with the free service because it wants to help with the United States’ plan to realign its military presence in Japan and the rest of the world.

The U.S. military has grown increasingly upset over Japan’s passivity toward getting involved in Washington’s plan to realign the U.S. military presence in Japan, he said.

“We don’t want to get the United States irritated,” a government source said.

The ACSA was revised to extend the scope of situations in which the Self-Defense Forces and U.S. military can exchange logistic support, supplies and services.

It calls for reciprocal exchanges of goods and services in principle, but also allows their exchange for cash.

The Defense Agency said the MSDF provided a total of around 371,000 kiloliters of fuel, worth approximately 13.5 billion yen, to naval vessels from 11 countries between the start of its dispatch in December 2001 and early last month.

The recipient countries are Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Spain and the United States. Japan will continue to provide free fuel to all these countries, the sources said.

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