• Kyodo News


The U.N. security mission in Afghanistan has asked Japan to treat injured people under a plan to dispatch Self-Defense Forces medics to the country to provide human resources training, government sources said Sunday.

The International Security Assistance Force, led by NATO, has not specified who it wants the Japanese medics to treat, but the possibility that it could include soldiers wounded in battle cannot be denied, the sources said.

If wounded soldiers are to be treated by SDF medical officers, the SDF could be criticized as effectively participating in the use of force, which is banned under the Constitution.

To cooperate with the U.N., the government would have to conclude an agreement with the ISAF that would require Diet approval, but parliamentary deliberations on such an accord would likely be rough.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan told U.S. President Barack Obama during their summit in November that Japan would positively consider dispatching medics to Afghanistan. Since then, the government has been considering sending around 10 medical and nursing officers to Kabul to train and provide guidance to doctors and staff at the Afghan military’s medical facilities.

In December, the government dispatched a team made up of representatives of the Defense Ministry and the Foreign Ministry to consult with the Afghan government and the ISAF, as well as to check the security situation and see what kind of activities the medical mission would engage in, the sources said.

At that time, the ISAF, which carries out operations against the Taliban, asked that the Japanese medics treat the injured in addition to training local medical personnel, the sources said.

It also became apparent that Japan would have to conclude an agreement with the ISAF that would stipulate the legal status, rights and duties of the SDF medical and nursing officers as they would be conducting activities as members of the international security mission, the sources said.

While the government had earlier considered the possibility of implementing the dispatch by the time Kan visits the United States in June, the complications have forced it to stall its consideration of the plan, they said.

Attacks by insurgents occur frequently in Afghanistan, where more than 700 foreign troops and more than 800 Afghan soldiers were killed last year.

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