[JURIST] The Japanese House of Representatives [official website] passed a controversial bill Tuesday re-authorizing Japan's support for US anti-terror operations in the Indian Ocean, setting the course for Japanese ships to resume refueling for US vessels involved in anti-terrorism or anti-smuggling operations. The bill [JURIST report], which bars the refueling of US vessels involved in military or humanitarian relief operations in Afghanistan, was a compromise between Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DJP) [party websites]. It now goes to the upper House of Councillors for approval. The DJP is likely to stall the bill in the House of Councillors, but the LDP government has enough votes in the lower house to override the upper house. The DPJ has also introduced new legislation in the upper house to end the mission completely.
The LDP had sought a full renewal [JURIST report] of the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law [text], which included authorization for the refueling mission, but was unable to obtain the necessary DJP support before the law expired on November 1. Japan's involvement in Operation Enduring Freedom [DOS backgrounder] by refueling and supplying water to coalition ships in the Indian Ocean has precipitated a major rift [JURIST report] between Japan's two major parties, contributing to the September resignation [BBC English translation; JURIST report] of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The DJP wishes to entirely scrap Japan's mission, saying it violates the country's pacifist constitution [text] by involving Japan in military operations. AP has more.