Japan has ended its support for the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan. As of Thursday, it will no longer refuel ships in support of the troops there.
As America’s main ally in Asia, Japan has provided logistical support for coalition forces in Afghanistan by refueling warships and other vessels. Despite Tokyo’s pacifist Constitution, it passed a special law to authorize the refueling mission in 2001. That law, however, expired Thursday. Japan has refueled its last ship, unless the law is renewed.
The law has already been extended three times, but this time parliament failed to extend it because of strong resistance from the opposition party. Ichiro Ozawa, leader of the Democratic Party of Japan, argued that since the invasion of Afghanistan did not have UN backing, the refueling mission was unconstitutional.
Getting more to the heart of the matter, however, he said Japan must be kept out of “American wars.” Ozawa believes Japan is strategically and militarily too closely aligned with America.
It is possible Japan could yet pass the law again, but it will be an uphill struggle. Regardless, the whole affair reflects Japan’s changing relationship with America.
The Trumpet has previously written about how Japan would become less aligned with the United States and closer to Asia. In February 2003, the Trumpet wrote, “Both China and Japan will combine in Asian alliances, with the ultimate intention of forcing the U.S. out of the western Pacific. Then, as has been the strategy of the EU, Asian political and economic cooperation will ultimately progress to a military and security alliance.”Japan’s refusal to continue refueling U.S. ships is part of this trend away from Washington. For more information on the current political climate in Japan and what it portends for America, read “America’s Loss—Asia’s Gain.”