There were prolonged and troubled debates in all of the countries about the reasons for Al Qaeda's attacks of 11 September 2001 and the nature of the support which should be offered to Washington. In Japan the debate was primarily constitutional; in Pakistan it raised, in particularly acute form, the issue of the connection between the state and religion; in India it posed the question of the country's relationships with Pakistan and with the US; in Britain the debate revolved round race relations, military strategy and the country's position in the world. The pivotal nature of the choices was shown by the way in which the debates evoked each country's history to illuminate the way ahead.
The Japanese media identified immediately with the United States' suffering and reacted with horror and disbelief to the events of 9/11. Two days later one newspaper opined, 'the entire world community has been brutally victimised. Japan should share the anger of the American people and take an active role in joining international efforts to ferret out those responsible for the act'. An emergency rescue team was immediately assembled in case it was needed by the US. Within the first week, the Japanese Defense Agency was reported to be considering reinterpreting the law on emergencies to enable it to take more action against terrorists in Japan's neighbourhood. 1 Within two weeks Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi had visited Washington and promised to take very far-reaching measures, including the dispatch of Japanese warships to a potential war zone for the first time since 1945. An extraordinary session of the Diet began on 27 September 2001 to consider how the pacifist Constitution could be reconciled with such actions. 2
Newspapers reflected the dilemma. The Asahi Shimbun, with its circulation of nine million readers, wanted Japan to respond appropriately. But its columnists worried that 'once Japanese destroyers engage in joint operations with US naval task forces, there will be no going back, and Japan could be forced into silent submission whenever the US makes fresh demands'. 3 At the same time, article after article referred back to the criticisms of Japan during the 1991 Gulf War for failing to aid the coalition