Protest Against Iraq Troop Dispatch
27 January 2004
Minister of State for Defense Ishiba today, in response to the decision of the meeting of the ruling parties’ leaders earlier, ordered the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) to dispatch troops to the southern Iraqi city of Samawah for humanitarian reconstruction activities. Ishiba also ordered the Maritime Self-Defense Force to dispatch vessels tasked with transporting GSDF equipment. The government and the ruling parties are now seeking to push a bill through parliament’s lower and upper houses to formally approve the dispatch of troops to Iraq, to which oppositions parties have professed opposition. “The dispatch runs counter to the Constitution and the Special Iraq Law,” Democratic Party of Japan criticised.
The dispatch of Self-Defense Force (SDF) troops to a combat zone in Iraq is against the Special Iraq Law, which the government uses to justify the decision. RENGO has clearly declared itself against the dispatch under current circumstances on various actions, including the 3 December meeting of RENGO President Sasamori with Prime Minister Koizumi and a rally jointly organised by RENGO, Democratic Party of Japan, Social Democratic Party and civil society organisations on 14 December.
Iraq’s security situation has not been improved at the present time and, that is, the SDF dispatch to Iraq is the first time Japan has sent its troops to the front in a state of war. As the former head of a special U.S. investigative team concluded it was unlikely Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the war started, the ground of the war is now called in question. Various national public opinion polls show that the majority is opposed to the dispatch.
It is a matter for extreme regret that the Koizumi administration gave the final go-ahead for the main contingent of GSDF troops to be deployed to Iraq. RENGO reiterates protest and opposition against the dispatch.