[JURIST] The Japanese House of Councillors [official website] passed a bill Wednesday to end Japan's air force mission in Iraq, with opposition leaders insisting that Japan should work through the United Nations rather than the United States. Japan withdrew its ground troops from Iraq last July, but a Japanese unit stationed in Kuwait still provides air support for the Multi-National Force-Iraq. The bill, which passed 133-103 [AP report], is supported primarily by the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) [party website]. It is not, however, expected to pass the more powerful House of Representatives, dominated by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party [official website]. The House of Councillors vote comes little more than one week after a Japanese district court dismissed a lawsuit [JURIST report] that claimed the deployment of Japanese troops in Iraq violated Article 9 of the Japanese constitution [text].
The debate over Japan's involvement in military operations abroad recently caused a major rift [JURIST report] between Japan's two major parties, contributing to the September resignation [BBC resignation speech translation; JURIST report] of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The DPJ, which generally opposes Japan's overseas military deployments, blocked the renewal of the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law [text], which allowed Japan to refuel allied ships in the Indian Ocean for operations in Afghanistan until its expiration on November 1. The Japanese House of Representatives passed a bill [JURIST report] earlier this month reauthorizing a limited refueling operation. VOA has more.