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Japan’s has confirmed that its refuelling ships will be withdrawn from the Indian Ocean in January – the first real sign that the new Tokyo administration is honouring its election pledge to break free from decades of subservience to US foreign policy…
Since 2001 Japanese vessels have provided fuel and water to US and allied warships in support of the war effort. Hatoyama, whose Democratic party of Japan (DPJ) has consistently opposed the mission, will instead attempt to ease US concerns with a raft of humanitarian measures. He hopes to have a comprehensive plan in place before Barack Obama arrives in Tokyo on 12 November for a two-day visit.
“We believe that civilian support for the people’s livelihood in that country, such as agricultural reconstruction, will lead to a fundamental solution to what constitutes the basis of terrorism,” said the government’s chief spokesman, Hirofumi Hirano.
Japan’s determination to offer new, non-military solutions to Afghanistan’s problems was evident at the weekend when the foreign minister, Katsuya Okada, made a surprise visit to Kabul to discuss long-term reconstruction with the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai. Japan has already committed itself to paying the Afghan police force’s salaries for six months and is funding several education projects that it hopes will weaken the lure of the Taliban among disaffected Afghan men.
Although the US and Britain have urged Japan to extend its refuelling mission beyond January, Washington has indicated it will accept a withdrawal in return for deeper involvement in Afghanistan’s reconstruction. Among the extra measures being considered by Japan, which has pledged $2bn in aid over the last eight years, is job training for former Taliban fighters…
Further evidence of the shift in Tokyo’s foreign policy priorities came last week when Hatoyama met his South Korean and Chinese counterparts, Lee Myung-bak and Wen Jiabao, in Beijing for talks on the formation of an “east Asian community” inspired by the European Union. The leaders said they would explore the idea of a free-trade pact and co-operate more closely in other areas, including climate change and sustainable growth.
Nations which stand to benefit from cooperation and commerce are talking about developing forms and protocols for doing just that. I guess some people think that more beneficial than waging war.