From WEEKLY MDS No.871, Jan. 21, 2005 issue logo

Troops Dispatched to Indonesia under Pretext of Disaster Relief / Japanese Troops Deregulated on Overseas Operations

Largest-ever dispatch of Japanese troops

"No one would oppose the Great Tsunami disaster relief effort," a government official says. The Japanese government rushed for a chance to take advantage of the largest-ever earthquake off the shore of Sumatra and the subsequent tsunami disaster. In the name of "disaster relief teams," it has dispatched Self-Defense Forces (SDF) personnel to stricken areas on the largest scale ever for overseas operations.

The deployment includes the Ground SDF for "medical/epidemic prevention operations and relief supplies transport," the Maritime SDF for "transport of GSDF personnel and equipment" and the Air SDF for "transport of US army personnel and relief supplies." The total number well exceeds 1,000 members. The GSDF and MSDF will operate in the northern part of Sumatra and the ASDF at Utapao Base in Thailand. This dispatch of SDF troops to Southeast Asia including Indonesia is not a virtuous act of "assisting disaster recovery." The real intention is elsewhere.

Finishing up the formation of an aggressor army

Let us pin down the objective. A top-level Foreign Ministry official is quoted as saying, "The dispatch will give greater momentum toward upgrading of overseas operations to the primary mission status." This statement plainly reveals the objective and target of the SDF dispatch now under way.

The dispatched SDF troops will coordinate activities with the US military at Utapao Base, where the US command post for "relief operations" is set up. The Base will function as a stronghold of the ASDF's transport operations as well as "the on-site liaison headquarters" for coordinating the three SDF branches: the Ground, Maritime and Air SDFs. This is an attempt to repeat in Southeast Asia what Japanese troops are doing in Iraq in their involvement with the war and occupation. Furthermore, the Japanese government aims to accomplish the following three schemes:

Scheme one: revision of the SDF Law for the worse. The government looks to "amend the law" in the next ordinary Diet session to include overseas activities in the SDF's primary mission. The current provisions of the SDF strictly limit the SDF's mission to "respond to direct and indirect attacks," only allowing overseas mission to be conducted under the miscellaneous provisions attached to the Law. The government aims to lift this constraint.

Scheme two: Launch of "joint operation" in which the three SDF branches serve under a unified command. Previously, the Ground, Maritime and Air SDFs have operated under separate commands. This commanding structure, however, would not allow competence in actual warfare. Thus, before Japan-US joint military actions can take place, command channel unification across the three branches must be accomplished. In the disaster relief operations, the SDF is attempting "joint operation" for the first time in its history while developing organizational restructuring accordingly.

Scheme three: accumulation of experiences in intervention in a political conflict in Southeast Asia in the name of "antiterrorism war." They aim to achieve that by having the SDF enter the disputed province of Aceh and operate with the US forces.

All of the above plans are derived from the new National Defense Program Outline approved by the Cabinet in December. Quickly grabbing the opportunity they found in the disaster brought by the Sumatra offshore earthquake and the tsunami, they are trying to eliminate all shackles hindering overseas dispatch of troops in an effort to build an army befitting an aggressor nation. This tactic deserves the phrase "thief at a fire."

Extend grassroots support for victims in international solidarity

The Sumatra offshore earthquake and the tsunami claimed more than 150,000 lives and struck several millions of people. International support is needed for disaster relief and living reconstruction. While dispatching troops to Iraq and spending several hundred million dollars a day jointly, the US and Japanese governments are providing a total of some $850 million in "grant aid for reconstruction" to delude the public. What must be pursued is termination of the war and occupation. The enormous amount of money for killings must be turned to support for reconstruction of victims' living and stricken regions.

Our support must make a clear separation from global capitalism, which is behind the aggravation of the disaster. What is needed is international monitoring and grassroots support in the spirit of international solidarity. Debts of stricken countries must be canceled. Genuinely victim-oriented assistance should be ensured. Oppose the dispatch of the SDF and block "amendment" of the SDF Law in the ordinary Diet session. (January. 9)

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