KOGA Says! RENGO's Statement by General Secretary
Statement on the Decision to Withdraw GSDF from Iraq
21 June 2006
RENGO’s Statement by General Secretary Koga
- On June 20th, the Japanese government, in response to the July transferof power in Al-Muthanna Province, which includes the capitol city ofSamawah, from the multinational forces to the Iraqi security forces,and after consulting with the United States, Great Britain, and Australia,has finalized plans to withdraw the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Forcesfrom Samawah. The GSDF will begin preparations to move to Kuwait andexpect to have completed the pullout by July at the earliest.
- RENGO has consistently opposed the decision to dispatch JapaneseSelf-Defense Forces as well as the extension of their term and hasdemanded a retraction of the basic plan for SDF dispatch. In light ofthat, RENGO realizes that dispatch of the GSDF which began in January 2004will end after approximately two and a half years. However, it is imperativeto again point out that after a string of events several serious questionsstill remain.
- First, the Japanese government dispatched the Self-DefenseForces, which are banned in the Constitution against the use of forceoverseas, to Iraq which was in an ongoing state of war. On June 20th,the very same day when the Japanese government decided to withdraw theGSDF, at least twenty people were killed in a string of attacks – includinga car bombing in a market – and in its wake, skirmishes between the USmilitary/Iraqi security forces and armed insurgents have escalated. Neveragain should forces be dispatched as they were this time, being conductedunder repeated and forced legal interpretations for the creation of a 'non-combatzone' thatexisted in theory only.
Secondly, Japan played a part in the occupation by immediately supportingthe US forces in an action that was unjust and questionable in termsof international law. The use of force against Iraq was conducted withouta UN Security Council resolution; and the weapons of mass destructionthat the United States used to justify its use of force and gave as thereason for starting war, in the end, never materialized. What we cansay is that Japan’s recent actions which only prioritized the 'Japan-U.S.alliance' createdfuture problems for both foreign policy and domestic politics.
Thirdly, the government forced its idea of 'in the beginning there isdispatch' and failed to fulfill its duty to explain this action to itscitizens despite the fact that dispatching the SDF for the first timeever to a de-facto war zone was a decision of such magnitude that split publicopinion. Prime Minister Koizumi should especially come under harsh criticismfor his repeated remarks, which can only be characterized as defensive, whenquestioned at the Diet: 'I have no way of knowing now where a non-combatzone is and a combat zone is.'
- Reports state that this redeployment includesonly the Ground Self-Defense Forces and that the government plans totransfer an Air Self-Defense Force base to Baghdad in order to enlargethe scope of its activities. As a full pullout will be postponed until thenext administration, RENGO in cooperation with the opposition parties willcontinue to press the government to clarify their process for a completewithdrawal of the SDF.