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Japan ruling party narrows scope of anti-terror bill

[JURIST] Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) [official website] has submitted a new draft anti-terrorism law that would limit Japan's naval support for US operations in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom [DOS backgrounder] to refueling and supplying water to coalition ships in the Indian Ocean. The latest proposed extension of the current Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law [text] would bar Japanese ships from refueling coalition ships providing ground support in Afghanistan. It would also preclude Japanese forces from participating in search and rescue missions and relief efforts. New Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda [party profile; BBC profile] had previously expressed support for fully renewing the anti-terror law [JURIST report] but has come under pressure from the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) [official website] which contends that allied military operations in Afghanistan are not sanctioned by the United Nations and violate Japan's pacifist constitution [text]. The current law expires on November 1. The Democrats want a debate of the issue in the Diet, which could keep the law from being renewed before the deadline.

Japan's involvement in Afghanistan has precipitated a major rift [JURIST report] between Japan's two major parties, which helped prompt the resignation [BBC English translation; JURIST report] of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on September 12. AP has more.

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