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Japan: Refueling Mission in the Indian Ocean Extended

(Dec. 19, 2008) Japan's Self Defense Forces have refueled other countries' vessels in the Indian Ocean to support the U.S.-led effort in Afghanistan since 2001, under Japan's limited-term anti-terrorism legislation (Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law, Law No. 113, of 2001). When the original anti-terrorism legislation expired in November 2007 after several extensions, the Special Measures Law Concerning Replenishment Support Activities for Anti-Terrorism Activities on the Sea (Law No. 1 of 2008) was enacted in January 2008. The 2008 law was effective for one year. Without an extension, it was due to expire in January 2009. The Japanese government submitted a bill to extend the law for one year in September 2008.

The Diet passed the bill on December 12, 2008. It was not easy for the ruling coalition to accomplish. Opposition parties claimed the refueling mission violated the Constitution, which embraces pacifism and bans Japan from engaging in warfare. The lower house had endorsed the extension in October, but the upper house, which is controlled by the opposition parties, rejected it on December 12, 2008. The lower house voted again on the same day to override the upper house rejection. (Mari Yamaguchi, Japan OKs Extension of Anti-Terror Navy Mission, THE WASHINGTON POST, Dec. 12, 2008, available at