Shocked Japan debates troops for Iraq after deaths
Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE
"Shocked Japan debates troops for Iraq after deaths"
(By Linda Sieg) Reuters
Most of Japan still seems to be at a loss after two days from the fatal attack on two Japanese government officials and a Lebanese chauffer shot to death on their way to attend a reconstruction conference in Tikrit, Iraq, Saddam Hussein's home town.
One note might be help in reading the article introduced above that although explained later in the article itself, the poll results cited there were those of before the incident, and do not reflect any changes of the people's sentiment after the incident.
As mentioned in the article, however, there have been two very split views initially expressed in the media.
The liberal side of the argument is for Japan to evacuate from Iraq altogether and never send troops there. Asahi Shinbun has commented that the killings occurred because the Japanese government failed to stop them from working too hard and getting engaged in dangerous activities, and since any action by Japan would be considered as assisting the US who is falsely occupying Iraq, sending troops there, for whatever purpose, is not just futile but perhaps detrimental.
On the other hand, dubbed as conservatives although which is in fact Japanese government's stance, has been that Japan has been acting in compliance with the UN resolutions, and as a country committed to act in concert with the international community, it could not back off, not from wars but from peacekeeping and reconstruction endeavors in Iraq. This view in effect supports Prime Minister Koizumi's statement after the incident that "Japan should not be intimidated by terrorism."
One note to the dispatch of SDF troops to Iraq. The law allowing for the troops to be sent there requires that they be sent to "non-combat" zones only, as they are deemed to engage only in reconstruction projects and supposed to stay away from combats. Aside from political intentions, this restriction could prohibit them to be sent to Iraq at all, or to limit their capabilities if and once they get there.
In any case, as the two Japanese officials killed were apparently the most knowledgeable within the whole government about Iraq and its affairs, the loss would make it even more difficult for Japan to formulate appropriate policies, no matter which side you are on the policy debate. Indicative was the cancellation of a planned trip by Yukio Okamoto, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, to Iraq, where he was scheduled to tour the region together with the gone officials.
And in the mean time, Japan's people may need a little while to reassemble their ideas.
Condolences to the families of the two men killed in their efforts to create a better world.