[JURIST] A Japanese parliamentary committee Monday approved a controversial anti-terror bill re-authorizing Japan's support mission for US operations in the Indian Ocean. Under the bill, Japanese ships will be barred from refueling US ships involved in combat or humanitarian operations in Afghanistan, but will be allowed to refuel ships involved in anti-terrorism or anti-smuggling patrols. The bill is intended as a compromise between Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DJP) [party websites], and, if approved, would replace the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law [text], which expired on November 1. The LDP previously sought a full renewal of the anti-terror law, but narrowed the scope [JURIST reports] of the legislation to obtain greater DJP support. The full lower house is expected to vote on the bill Tuesday.
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. The Japan Times has local coverage.