Campaign against Terrorism: Allies: Japanese Pass Law Allowing Military to Join Campaign
Palmer, James, The Independent (London, England)
JAPAN PASSED a law allowing its troops to back up the US-led war on terrorism yesterday, ending half a century of military neutrality imposed by its post-war constitution.
The controversial act of parliament, which was approved with unusual speed, will enable Japanese forces to transport weapons and ammunition to the campaign against Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan's ruling Taliban, but not to engage in combat.
The legal revision will be viewed sceptically across Asia by those victimised by Jap- anese invaders during the second world war, and those who believe a rise in Japanese nationalism under conservative prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, could prompt a return to Japan's militarist past.
The old law, which was written by US occupation authorities after Japan's 1945 surrender, barred Japan from engaging in military action unless it was threatened or directly attacked.
Approval of the bill, which came 25 days after it was introduced, reflects Mr Koizumi's desire to avoid the criticism that befell the country in the 1991 Gulf War, when Tokyo was criticised for its "chequebook diplomacy". …