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Politics

Japan eyes support to foreign forces without Diet's OK

TOKYO -- The Japanese government hopes to simplify the procedures for providing logistical support to the armed forces of other countries, the latest in a series of steps to strengthen international cooperation.

     Under current rules, the Self-Defense Forces can offer such support only to the militaries of nations that have signed an Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement with Japan. The U.S. and Australia are the only two countries with which Japan has this arrangement, which needs to be approved by the Diet.

     Last July, the cabinet approved a legislative draft to expand the scope of SDF logistical support. Under the proposed rules, the SDF would be able to provide support in all areas except where combat is taking place. And while existing rules restrict SDF operations to such activities as resupplying food and fuel, conducting repairs and providing medicine, the government hopes to expand this to include the supplying of ammunition and refueling of aircraft about to go on combat missions.

     The foreign affairs and defense ministries decided that the ACSA framework is too time consuming, said a government official. A bilateral agreement at the executive level, and not involving the legislative body, will suffice under the proposed legislation.

     Tokyo is working to beef up cooperation with allies as China tries to strengthen its presence in waters near Japan and in light of security concerns in the Middle East. It is considering approaching Association of Southeast Asian Nations members such as the Philippines, which is embroiled in a maritime dispute with China, about forming such ties.

(Nikkei)

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