Opposition Bloc to Seek Cancellation of MSDF Middle East Mission

Politics

Tokyo, Jan. 8 (Jiji Press)--Major Japanese opposition parties on Wednesday agreed to press the government to cancel its plan to dispatch Maritime Self-Defense Force units to the Middle East, following Iranian missile attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq on the day.

Some in the ruling bloc have also started to express concern over the MSDF mission, which is intended to gather information to ensure sea lane safety in the region, as tensions are expected to escalate further if the United States and Iran engage in a cycle of retaliation. The missile attack followed the U.S. airstrike last week that killed a key commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

At a meeting on Wednesday, the parliamentary affairs chiefs of major opposition parties, including the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, agreed that they will call on the government to withdraw the Dec. 27, 2019, cabinet decision on the MSDF deployment.

"The planned dispatch deviates from Japan's neutral stance (in its Middle East diplomacy)," CDPJ parliamentary affairs chief Jun Azumi told reporters after the meeting. "Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's decision (on the MSDF dispatch) is wrong."

"We can't expose Self-Defense Forces members to danger based on such vague legal grounds as 'survey and research,'" Democratic Party for the People leader Yuichiro Tamaki said at a press conference, referring to the Defense Ministry establishment law's Article 4, which is used by the government as the basis for the mission. "We are against the deployment."

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Jiji Press