Japan's Navy restarts Maritime Security Mission
Japan’s maritime forces have begun to depart for the Indian Ocean. It’s to restart its mission to provide fuel and water for the US led multinational forces in their fight against terrorism in Afghanistan. Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba noted “Japan will serve the best interest for the nation and will fulfill its global responsibilities. This mission is highly appreciated abroad. Our men will fulfill their missions.” The mission is controversial in Japan, as many are not in favor of participating in conflict, even though it’s an indirect one.
In view of the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, the Japanese government enacted the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law to provide all the assistance and cooperation possible with in Constitutional limits.
In accordance with the law, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force has been conducting cooperation and support activities since November 2001. The activities have primarily involved supplying fuel to the U.S. naval vessels and other nations’ vessels participating in maritime interdiction operations in the Indian Ocean.
Japan was engaged in its support activities for six years. The Law expired on November 1, 2007 when the opposition who opposed the bill came in control of the upper house, and these operations were suspended.
The Cabinet only reconfirmed the bill on January 11, 2008 and the implementation guidelines were approved by the Prime Minister on January 16, 2007.
There are roughly 190 countries in the world, and of those, around 120 countries possess naval forces. Of those with naval forces, around 30 countries possess refueling ships that are capable of refueling other ships at sea. Furthermore, there are only a few countries in addition to Japan that are capable of conducting such refueling over a long time period, steadily and with a high degree of reliability, on an ongoing basis at sea far from their own countries. Refueling at sea by the MSDF was highly appreciated by other countries, and those countries have been strongly looking forward to our resumption of activities.
Given these circumstances, and with the “fight against terrorism” still being one of the major challenges that the international community has to address, I am confident that the refueling at sea by the MSDF is the most fitting way for Japan to engage in the “fight against terrorism.”
Consequently, henceforth after undertaking the necessary coordination and procedures within the Government, we would like to resume supply support activities as quickly as possible. Therefore, in preparation for a decision by the Government, in order to dispatch the MSDF unit expeditiously and appropriately, I have instructed the Chief Of Staff of the Joint Staff Office, the Chief of Staff of the MSDF, and the Director of the Defense Intelligence Headquarters to proceed with the necessary preparations.
In order to realize and ensure the national interests of our country, and in order to fulfill Japan’s responsibilities to the international community, the Ministry of Defense and the Self-Defense Forces intend, with the understanding and cooperation of the Japanese people, to continue to engage in the “fight against terrorism” proactively and on its own initiatives.
On the basis of these decisions, at 12:00 p.m. January 17, 2008, the Japanese Defense Minister issued an order to the Commander of the Self-Defense Fleet of the MSDF to organize a dispatch unit to engage in and implement supply support activities.