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The government will study enacting a new law to send the Self-Defense Forces to Afghanistan to help the war-torn country rebuild, Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma said Friday.

The government will also consider revising the current special antiterrorism measures law as an alternative to enable the SDF to provide such help, Kyuma said after meeting with North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at NATO headquarters in the Belgian capital.

During the meeting, Kyuma told Scheffer that Japan will look into the possibility of the SDF supporting the reconstruction of Afghanistan, according to Japanese officials.

“Japan wants to consider to what extent its Self-Defense Forces would be able to extend support for Afghanistan’s reconstruction efforts” under the constraints of the war-renouncing Constitution, the officials quoted Kyuma as telling the NATO official.

He also said the government will study whether it is possible for Japanese civilians to airlift goods and materials there.

The Maritime Self-Defense Force has been providing fuel and water to warships from the U.S. and other coalition forces in the Indian Ocean in support of antiterrorism operations in Afghanistan since December 2001 under the special antiterrorism measures law.

“The special antiterrorism measures law presupposes that a war is still under way and does not assume that the SDF may provide help to rebuild a country, so it is difficult to interpret the law as enabling the SDF to provide reconstruction-related help,” Kyuma said. “We may have to enact a new law depending on the situation.”

The government “would like to conduct a study as to whether we can draw up a law to enable a broad range of activities, such as those for enabling the SDF to go to help a country rebuild itself.”

Some Defense Ministry officials have noted that the predominant view in the ministry on the proposed legislation is that it would be difficult to send the SDF to Afghanistan as long as the current combat activities continue.

Iraq need winds down

SHARM EL-SHEIK, Egypt (Kyodo) Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Friday that the demand for logistic support by the Air Self-Defense Force will not last beyond “the end of this year.”

In an interview in the eastern Egyptian city of Sharm el-Sheik, al-Maliki said Iraq instead needs civilian Japanese experience, capabilities and technical knowhow for reconstruction.

With the current ASDF mission scheduled to expire July 31, the government and the ruling coalition have introduced legislation to extend the mandate by another two years.

After the pullout of ground troops, the ASDF personnel, based in Kuwait, have stayed on to transport multinational force troops and United Nations staff as well as supplies to Baghdad and the northern city of Irbil.

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